Editor’s note: This is the second part of a month-long series that focuses on homelessness on the Eastside.
Just as tackling homelessness means more than just giving people a place to stay for the night, the Friends of Youth’s (FOY) location in Redmond offers more than just a shelter.
In addition to The Landing — an overnight shelter for young adults — FOY at the Together Center in downtown Redmond offers drop-in services during the day.
Derek Wentorf, director of homeless youth services at FOY, said those services include case management and educational services such as GED assistance. Clients can also receive mental-health or substance-use services.
While The Landing serves young adults ages 18-24, Wentorf said their drop-in services are targeted to include teens aged 16 and 17, depending on the program.
FOY has been at the Together Center since the multi-tenant nonprofit center opened but Wentorf said the Redmond location used to be limited to administration. That changed about four years ago when the food bank, which was run by Hopelink, moved to a new location and FOY was able to take over the space, allowing the organization to expand its services.
In those four years, Wentorf said things have been going well.
Unfortunately, he said, the demand for their services are high and that is consistent with reports from King County that state that there are about 800 young people who are currently homeless in the county.
“We feel that from our services,” he said, adding that FOY is steadily busy.
That steadiness can be seen in their day services as well as overnight when the center turns into The Landing.
The shelter has the capacity for 20 guests and Wentorf said in the winter months, they have seen an average of 18-19 people each night. About a quarter of the time, he said, they have had more than 20 people show up and as a result they have had to have a “lotto,” or a random drawing to determine who can stay overnight.
For those who are “lotto-ed out” one night, Wentorf they are guaranteed a spot at the shelter the next day. Other ways guests are guaranteed a spot for the night include if it is their birthday, if they are working and call ahead of time to ask staff to reserve a spot for them.
If there is not a bed available for a young person, Wentorf said they will have a conversation with the individual, make sure they have enough food and give them a bus pass. They will also offer to call around to other shelters in the area if that is what they would like, although sometimes at the end of a long night, he said, the young person may not be interested in taking the bus all the way to Seattle or another city.
The Landing is located at 16225 NE 87th St., Suite 1A. For information, call 425-449-3868, or call CEO and Mercer Islander Terry Pottmeyer at 425-869-6490.
The city of Redmond has also taken an active role in serving those who are homeless or on the verge of being homeless.
Last summer, the city hired Kent Hay, an outreach worker who works with all entities of the city — from law enforcement and the fire department, to planning and parks.
Hay’s position was initially created based on a recommendation from the city’s homelessness task force and has since become a permanent position and was included in the city’s budget.
Since he started, Hay has partnered with the Redmond Library and holds drop-in hours from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Tuesdays. During these times, people can meet with him to work on plans on how to not become homeless or to get out of homelessness.
In addition, he has worked to start the Next Step Resource Center, which is also at the library from 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. The resource center brings together various organizations and agencies that serve people who are homeless.