Local support helps Sacramento’s Wind Youth Services keep program open

Sacramento’s primary provider of services to homeless youths said Thursday that an outpouring of community support has allowed it to keep open its daily drop-in center.

Earlier this month, Wind Youth Services officials told supporters and the media that without word from the federal government on whether a significant grant would be renewed, they would have to temporarily close the drop-in center. Today was expected to be its last day.

“After the community became aware of the proposed reduction of services at the center, we have received a tremendous amount of encouragement to continue to provide those services from our partners and sponsors,” said Sher Barber, the center’s executive director.

Additional funds provided by supporters have removed the need for immediate cutbacks, she said.

It’s less clear what happens if the grant is not awarded. Wind officials said the status of the grant is unknown.

“We are still basically on hold with that,” said Paul McClure, a board member.

Wind Youth Services, at 701 Dixieanne Ave. in Sacramento, serves hundreds of homeless young people on an annual basis, providing counseling, meals, hygiene kits, public health nursing services and housing. Federal and state funding is augmented by local fundraising efforts. Grant applications were written in June and July, with an announcement of grant recipients expected Sept. 30, said Barber. On Oct. 1, the government was shut down for 16 days and no announcement has been made.

“This grant is a critical part of how we operate this day center,” McClure said. “This is a pretty significant part that is caught up in the government shutdown, and the timing couldn’t be worse for Wind Youth Services.”

The drop-in day center serves meals, provides laundry services and is staffed with a public health nurse, in addition to being a safe place for young people to hang out during the day. Other services, such as housing, brown bag meals, hygiene kits, vaccinations and HIV education, were not threatened by the grant situation, Barber said.