helping people survive and recover from forced displacement through transitional housing solutions
Safe Start is a new housing project in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) specifically designed to provide safe transitional housing for asylum-seeking young women who are aging-out of juvenile immigration detention centers. In securing housing, these young women are able to avoid being placed in adult immigration detention centers where they are vulnerable to abuse.
Context: As of May 2018 there were more than 10,000 unaccompanied children in U.S. government juvenile immigration detention centers. By December 2018 the number had risen to almost 15,000. Facilities differ greatly in the quality of care children receive. Once children in these centers turn 18, they are transferred to adult immigration detention centers if they do not have secondary housing options available. These young women and men are placed in facilities with adults where they are vulnerable to abuse and protracted trauma.
Need: Federal statutes say that when a child turns 18, it is the responsibility of U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement to find the least restrictive setting for them to take residence if they are going to stay in the country. Examples of “least restrictive” settings may be living with relatives or in large-group homes run by non-profit organizations. Many of these large-group homes are at capacity and are having to turn away young men and women, forcing their entry into adult immigration detention centers.
Goal: This project will provide stable housing and restorative community for 2 female asylum seekers ages 18-21 in the Twin Cities for a period of 9-12 months, with the goal of supporting their transition into stable and independent living in their new community.
Strategy: Safe Start will partner with Bethany House of Hospitality in Chicago to provide secondary housing for a small number of young women who Bethany House identifies as benefiting from a smaller, more family-like living environment. Using the resident advocate model created and used by IAFR Jonathan House, volunteer resident advocates and house staff work with the young women residents to develop and achieve goals leading to financial and housing independence and emotional and physical well-being.
Safe Start partners with Awaken West 7th and IAFR for volunteer training and support, furniture and grocery donations, and mentorship.
Opportunity: Your prayers and financial gifts provide the physical resources and spiritual support for a safe place to begin the work of healing and restoration. Prayerfully consider donating today to Safe Start and join us in the work of welcoming.