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First Homeless Youth Shelter In A Decade Opens in Prince George's County

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The new homeless shelter in Prince George's County is furnished to appeal to young people.
WAMU/Armando Trull
The new homeless shelter in Prince George's County is furnished to appeal to young people.

D'Andre is 19 and homeless, and that's why we're not using his last name. We're sitting on comfortable brown velvet sofas in the socializing area of Promise Place, an emergency youth shelter in Capitol Heights, Md.—the first of its kind in over a decade. There's a large flat-screen TV; no popcorn yet, but D'Andre doesn't mind.

"It's amazing. I couldn't believe it before my eyes. I think I would never want to leave," D'Andre says. "This looks better than peoples' homes."

Nineteen-year-old Jonetta is equally smitten with the girls dormitory. It's got pink comforters, fluffy cushions and small bags with toiletries by each bed.

"I like the girls' bedroom because it's so beautiful. It's like when I first saw it, I thought no one would ever do something like this for anybody like us, being homeless. It's really good,"  she says.

The home-like environment is meant to provide a safe space for about 21 days for homeless teens. Eric Collins is with Sasha Bruce, the homeless advocacy organization that will manage the $300,000 facility.

"Most of our homeless young people have either been kicked out of homes, left out in the street or whatever, and so what we try to do is reunify them with their families if at all possible. We do a lot of intensive case management work, working with the school system as well," he said.

The county's teen population is about 100,000, and there could be as many as 200 homeless youth on any given day, so the 20 beds here are a small first step in addressing the problem.

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