Homeless youth center gets grants for move into larger downtown St. Paul space

SafeZone Drop-in Center, which provides aid for homeless young people in St. Paul, is moving to larger quarters with the help of grants from local foundations.

The Saint Paul Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation and Mardag Foundation, all part of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, gave SafeZone $60,000 to support moving costs, furnishings and equipment for the new space.

The drop-in space has outgrown its current space near the Farmers Market. The expected cost to renovate the new space in the Metro Square building will be about $500,000, with a projected opening in March.

The SafeZone grants were among 135 grants [PDF], totaling nearly $3.5 million, made by the three foundations last month.

The foundations note that:

Since 2007, visits to Ramsey County’s only drop-in center for homeless youth have increased 75 percent, to more than 20,000 visits a year. The center has outgrown its 5,800-square-foot space at 308 Prince St., near the Farmers Market. To better meet that growing need, the nonprofit that runs SafeZone has leased and is renovating an 8,200-square-foot space in Metro Square, at 7th and Robert Streets.

They estimate that at least 200 homeless youth are on the street each day in St. Paul, where they are at risk of sex-trafficking and other victimization. Officials say 70 to 80 stop by the SafeZone Drop-In Center downtown for a hot meal, a change of clothes, help finding a job or a place to live.

SafeZone is run by the St. Paul nonprofit Face to Face. 

Ann Mulholland, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners vice president for community impact, said SafeZone is a vital part of the safety net for young people.

“Since it was established in 1972, Face to Face has been awarded a combined $588,000 in grants for various projects, including SafeZone,” she said.

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