Rep. Johnson lauds HHS grant helping runaways, homeless children in Fourth District

Nov 1, 2011

Congressman: Stone Mountain-based emergency youth shelter holds great promise to protect at-risk youth

 LITHONIA, GA – Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) today congratulated Young People Matter Inc. (YPM) for receiving a grant award of more than $540,000 from the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children & Families to operate an emergency youth shelter in Stone Mountain.
YPM is the first emergency youth shelter in the Fourth District where youth can receive help 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and one of the few groups statewide whose mission is to seek runaways and homeless children on the streets and provide comprehensive care.
The three-year grant was awarded Sept. 30 and will run through 2014. The funding will help open and operate Open Hearts Shelter.
“This youth shelter has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of at-risk youth,” said Johnson. “There’s not a lot we do more important than helping vulnerable children find comfort, stability and a path back to normalcy. I’m proud of the compassion of the people in Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District, and I will continue fighting to make federal resources available that improves the lives of vulnerable children in our community.”
Simone Joye, founder and executive director of YPM, said the Open Hearts Shelter will serve children 10 to 18 in DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties.  
“It is estimated on any given night there may be 2,500 kids under the age of 18 living on the streets in metro Atlanta, and they are hidden in plain view,” said Joye.

“No child should ever have to sleep on the streets," she said. “When they do, they are at greater risk for exploitation and abuse. This funding, along with the technical assistance provided by HHS/ACF, will help us provide a safe place for youth to take refuge.”

In addition to the six-bed shelter, youth in Open Hearts care will also be provided food, health screenings, education assistance as well as counseling, case management and aftercare services.

For more information on Young People Matter, click HERE.