360 Loses Major Funding

Since 2008, 360 Youth Services has kept homeless girls off the streets with their Transitional Housing Program.

But after losing federal grants, the program is in jeopardy of closing for good.

At 19 years old, Cheyenne Tillis was left without a roof over her head after being kicked out of the house by her parents.

Soon after, she reached out to 360 Youth Services. A phone call that would change her life. “I was calling and calling, and they finally called me back and let me in. Without the program I would have been homeless and in a homeless shelter and I enjoy it,” said Tillis.

360 Youth Services offers a variety of ways to help young people get on their feet, but has recently lost funding for their girl’s transitional housing deal.

Cheyenne is just one of more than 60 young women, ages 18 to 21 to have been helped by the program, getting a place to live, and also the skills and motivation needed to find a job. “It makes me feel good. The program is helping me get there and without the program I wouldn’t be doing it,” she said.

360 Youth Services Executive Director, Ron Hume, helps oversee each of the transitional housing programs offered. “Our commitment to those young ladies in the program now is that we will graduate you from this program and not make you homeless again,” he said.

Since 2008, the program has been made possible through a $250,000 a year grant provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But last October, their request for money was denied forcing them to pay out of their pockets.

Now, the funds are running out, possibly leaving the seven remaining girls currently in the program without a home.

In order to maintain the program for the rest of the year, they will soon launch “Dollars For Our Daughters,” a large social media campaign focusing on ways the community can change these young people’s lives. For more information visit www.360youthservices.org/adollarforourdaughters.

Deb Carr serves as 360’s Director of Residential Programming. Dollars For Our Dollars was her idea. “Hopefully I can hire back the staff that I’ve laid off, and hopefully I can start taking new homeless women into the program. Right now, I’m maintaining a list of all the calls that we are getting so that when we do get the money I can make the calls back to these girls and offer them housing and warmth and safety and security,” said Carr.

With the guidance of 360, Cheyenne will start school next month. She hopes to graduate and get her own place. “I wouldn’t say take advantage of the program, but use it as much as you can. Take as much out of it as you can get because you don’t know what’s going to happen when you leave,” said the soon-to-be college student.

Ron Hume often gets the chance to know the clients of 360 on a personal level. “They are just regular folks who for some reason have had some struggles in life and the world has been a little bit of a harder place for them and they haven’t gotten launched and we have to help launch them,” he said.

360 Youth Services will reapply for funding in September, but if they are denied for a second time, they may not have enough resources to stay open. Their goal is to raise $125,000 by February 14th.
Many of the kids that come through the Transitional Program arrive with only the clothes on their backs.
But thanks to community donations, the clients can come to 360’s My Closet and get everything from shoes to underwear to outerwear.
Clients come to the store and choose clothes free of charge.
Vernon Houston has shopped at My Closet twice now. He has been able to take home suit jackets, tee shirts, and hoodies. “The program has really changed my life. They’re helping me strive forward and actually be a better man,” said Houston.

My Closet also has outfits for job interviews.
“It helps them get jobs and keep them, and look presentable. It changes their whole opinions about themselves,” said Ron Hume, Executive Director of 360 Youth Services.

My Closet is located in 360’s administration building on Oswego Road.

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