On September 8, 2011 the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners approved funding to open and operate a new shelter, specifically for the purpose of serving minor victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC). With additional funding from local faith and community groups and state and federal resources, the shelter began serving youth on November 28, 2011. The need for the shelter was identified as part of a comprehensive planning process conducted in 2010-11 by a committee of representatives from local government, nonprofit, and community groups.

The primary outcomes for youth in the shelter are to provide long term, transitional housing that will enable youth to stabilize their lives, make progress on a long term life plan, and transition into a permanent, safe, stable living situation when they leave. The target age range is 14-17, and both males and females will be served. Youth may stay at the shelter for up to 18 months, with extensions possible depending on the individual’s situation.

The residence is operated by Janus Youth Programs and is in a confidential location in a Portland neighborhood. The facility is staff secure, meaning that it is staffed with two people 24 hours a day and is locked against intruders. Extensive security and surveillance equipment have been installed and other measures taken to help make the facility safe.

Youth in shelter will develop daily living and social skills, participate in house activities and community outings, and pursue educational goals. The shelter is developing a rich volunteer program with faith and community partners, help with educational needs, skills development, recreation, and employment readiness. Education options are being developed with Portland Public Schools and nonprofit educational alternative programs. Youth will be involved in setting house rules and other aspects of the program, and one of their first tasks will be to name the shelter.

Many services for residents are being provided by our community partners, including the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC), Lifeworks NW, Portland Public Schools, and Department of Human Services Child Welfare Division. These partners form a service team that meets regularly to set shelter policies and review potential resident applications. An adjacent building will soon provide office space and meeting rooms for Janus, SARC, and Lifeworks NW staff to make their services readily available.

An application and interview process is in place for youth who wish to enter the program. Contact Curtis Peterson, Shelter Supervisor, at cpeterson@janusyouth.org for application and admission information.

For additional information about Janus Youth Programs’ homeless and runaway services, contact Kevin Donegan, Director of Community Youth Services, kdonegan@janusyouth.org