East Isles homeless shelter increasing services

The Bridge for Youth to house additional teenage parents

Bridge for Youth

An East Isles youth homeless shelter is adding more bedrooms for pregnant and parenting teenagers.

The Bridge for Youth will house up to six 16- to 18-year-olds and their children in the new rooms, which will open in May. The organization will allow families to stay up to 30 days and will try to help them find stable housing.

It is repurposing office space within the building to accommodate the additional bedrooms.

Founded in 1970, The Bridge for Youth provides 10- to 21-year-olds with shelter, affordable housing and services like counseling.

Its main building has 14 shelter beds for 10- to 17-year-olds and a five-bedroom wing for pregnant and parenting young people. An adjacent building, called Rita’s House, has affordable apartments for people ages 18–21.

Executive director Michelle Basham said about 500 of Hennepin County’s 1,000 homeless youth are pregnant or parenting. Many of those young people live in perilous conditions in order to avoid the streets, she said.

She said goals for the organization’s teen-parent program include preventing subsequent pregnancies and making sure the teenagers are enrolled in school.

Basham said the organization has sought funding from foundations and corporations and has received $300,000 from individual donors. She said The Bridge will also apply for state funding.

The organization has named the area with the new bedrooms Gloria’s Place. That’s in honor of former state representative Gloria Segal, who advocated on behalf of homeless and runaway youth and was a big supporter of The Bridge, associate director Christina Woodlee said.

Segal, who died in 1993, is the mother of Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal.

More information about The Bridge for Youth and how to help is at bridgeforyouth.org.