HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — (KTHV) – A new day-shelter in Hot Springs is bridging the gap for homeless youth by giving them a place to feel safe.
“The Drop-In” opened its doors a little over a month ago and already it is helping at-risk teens get off the street and back into school or in their own homes. Ouachita Children Youth and Family Services received a grant to open the facility Dec. 3. It is adjacent to the Salvation Army.
"For teenagers or young adults there was a gap, no one helping to meet that need,” director Livvey Rurup said.
The shelter is just outside downtown Hot Springs and available for anyone between the ages of 14-24.
"We offer meeting basic needs. So they can come in and get a survival kit. They can come do their laundry. Take a shower,” Rurup said.
Rurup said the program also helps kids get back into school or in the workforce.
"When you get into it you sort of realize how many kids actually do live on the streets,” she said.
Client 19-year-old Michael Weeks said the shelter has given him hope to get back up again.
"They're helping me by getting an ID and finding a place like any apartment and helping me get food,” Weeks said.
Outreach worker Buddy Loyd said he believes there is around 500 kids in the Hot Springs area who are homeless.
"I go and find kids on the streets in some of the worst parts of this town,” Loyd said.
He said most of the time these kids are scared to ask for help.
"There's a lot of trauma that goes on in a lot of families. Broken homes, drug addiction, mental health. Sometimes it's hard to stay at home,” Loyd said.
But he said the program's goal is to give these kids someone to trust.
"My boss told me these kids are looking for a stable object in the room and you're that. You just got to keep trying,” Loyd said.
The shelter is open from 9 a.m. to around 5 p.m. every Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday. You can call (501) 701-4441 to get in contact with them.