News Article Details

Half of Whatcom's homeless youth face mental health issues. This grant could help.

Bellingham Herald - 1/12/2018

Jan. 12--A $1.2 million federal grant will allow Northwest Youth Services to deepen the mental health services it provides to more than 100 young people in Whatcom County, according to its executive director.

The money from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will be spread over three years.

Northwest Youth Services is using the grant to launch REVIVE, a new project that also will provide help with chemical dependency. It will include partners Compass Health and Catholic Community Services -- Recovery.

The goal is to help the young who are homeless and who struggle with those issues.

Nearly half, or 46 percent, of young adults who are homeless reported having a mental health disability, according to the Point-in-Time Count, the annual census of the homeless in Whatcom County.

The nonprofit Northwest Youth Services helps people ages 13 to 24 in Whatcom and Skagit counties with housing and other services.

NWYS will use the grant to hire a team of four led by clinical director Nicole Torres. The dollars also will pay for a mental health professional from Compass Health and a chemical dependency professional from Catholic Community Services-Recovery.

The idea also is to focus on those youths who are chronically homeless and on marginalized groups such as young people of color and young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning, according to Riannon Bardsley, executive director for Northwest Youth Services.

A key provision of the new project is having the people who help its youths be on site at its main location on North State Street, where Northwest Youth Services already provides housing to youngsters and is building more in the form of a project called 22 North.

"Unless those services are on site, it doesn't work for the most vulnerable who need it the most," Bardsley said. "They will be mobile and able to respond to young people where they are."

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea


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