In 2012, a small group of concerned community members in Elk River began researching the issue of youth homelessness in this area. Did it exist? What were the needs? What were the available resources for these young people?
We concluded two basic points. There were indeed young people in our community who were without housing or who were in temporary, unstable housing. This was confirmed by local school district staff, law enforcement, and county social workers. Secondly, there were very few services available in our area specifically for youth. The decision was made to establish a non-profit organization to serve the needs of homeless youth in the primary impact areas of Elk River/Otsego/Zimmerman/Rogers and the surrounding secondary impact areas of Princeton, Big Lake, Becker, Monticello and St. Michael-Albertville. The best means of providing services to this young population would be to open a drop-in resource center, where goods and services could be easily accessed, youth would find a safe and welcoming space to simply be, and relationships with trusted, concerned adults could be built.
In March 2015, Open Doors for Youth opened near downtown Elk River. Today, homeless youth in our rural central Minnesota communities have a local resource to contact and caring adults to assist them in accessing essential services. We are the only agency within Sherburne and eastern Wright counties whose mission is solely to assist this vulnerable population.