KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Young adults facing homelessness in Kansas City will soon have a safe place to sleep at night.
PRIDE Haven is currently a drop-in site for people aged 18 to 24 facing homelessness to get resources to get back on their feet.
Blaine Proctor is chief executive officer of SAVE, Inc., which runs multiple housing programs, including PRIDE Haven.
Proctor said the organization focuses on serving young adults who identify as LGBTQIA, but it doesn't serve them exclusively.
"As kids come out to their families and are completely rejected by their families they need a place to go, they need a place that is going to be reaffirming for them," Proctor said.
Young adults can stop by the organization to have a place to stay during the day, get a hot shower, food, use a computer and get case management services.
Thanks to city support and COVID-19 funding, Proctor said the organization is now able to transition its drop-in site to an overnight shelter.
Program manager Scout Desimio said the transition will allow greater access to those young adults who need assistance getting back on their feet.
"While we were working toward getting them somewhere we were still at the end of the day, when we were closing our doors, watching them walk off and knowing they’re going to be sleeping in someone’s broken down truck [or] sleeping in a park," Desimio said.
Maryah Crooks was living on the streets until she discovered PRIDE Haven.
"It can get pretty bad out there," Crooks said.
Now, rather than just dropping in, Crooks has a place she knows she can stay at night.
"It means a lot, sincerely, because I’m struggling a lot right now and with their help it’s kind of bringing me up to my next step in my life," Crooks said.
Proctor said the need for resources like PRIDE Haven in the Kansas City area has grown tremendously over recent years due to gender identity getting more visibility.
"We see a huge need among young trans kids who are really dealing with gender identity and probably are the most misunderstood of that entire population," Proctor said.
TJ George identifies as gender-fluid and uses the pronouns "they/them".
George said they have been in and out of homelessness for several years now and they are currently getting help finding housing from PRIDE Haven.
"I have people I can talk to here and that I trust, it’s really hard to find people that you trust," George said.
George and Crooks are grateful to the organization for its help in turning their lives around.
"I think it’s amazing what you guys are doing and I really, really appreciate everything that’s been done," Crooks said to Proctor and Desimio.