A local nonprofit is working to help homeless teenagers in North Texas as the need for services continues to grow.
Kyle’s Place is a “youth transitional living campus” in Denton County for teenagers ages 14-19. It is run by the nonprofit Journey to Dream, which works to provide stability, guidance, and resources to support homeless teens as they transition into independent living, “preparing them to become confident, productive adults who can give back to the community.”
Journey to Dream CEO Nesa Grider told CBS News that the need for services for homeless youth is greater than ever.
“We’d like for there not to even be a need for us to be here, but because we’re one of the only ones in the area that serve that age group, we stay full,” she said.
Grider added that the teenagers at Kyle’s Place do not have criminal records.
“The teens that we get are not offending teens,” she said. “They are here because of something that has occurred to them.”
“Most of them are very high-trauma teens. It could be because of abuse, trafficking — anything that might have happened to them,” Grider continued. “Some come from the CPS system. Some just show up on our doorstep. It just really depends, but they come from all across North Texas.”
Grider said there are thousands of homeless teenagers across Dallas-Fort Worth, including those who are couch-surfing or living on the street, in cars, abandoned buildings, or in motels,
“They’re not on the street corners, and they’re not holding signs, and so it’s hard,” she said. “They’re kind of this invisible population.”
Grider added that teenage homelessness has spiked since the COVID-19 pandemic. Kyle’s Place provides these youth with “a warm bed, meals and snacks, and the ability to go to high school in decent, clean clothes … [and the opportunity] to participate in extracurricular activities.”
Former Kyle’s Place resident Alexandra Thiede, now 20 years old, told CBS that the shelter gave her “a second chance at actually becoming somebody.”
She had been living in a foster home, but at age 14, she decided to leave.
“It just wasn’t a good fit, so I ended up having to pack up and go, and I found myself at Kyle’s Place,” she said. Thiede stayed at the facility for a few years before moving in with a family that later adopted her.
“I love the family that I have now,” she said. “They’re just amazing to me. They’re just more than I could ask for.”
Kyle’s Place currently has 17 beds but hopes to expand to be able to serve more youth.
Meanwhile, homelessness and vagrancy are grave concerns among Dallas residents. Recent polling conducted by The Dallas Express found that more than 80% of city residents are frustrated with homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling in their neighborhoods and throughout Dallas.
The City of Dallas has employed several initiatives to alleviate homelessness but has not yet taken the “one-stop-shop” approach of Haven for Hope in San Antonio.
Haven for Hope supplies housing on the same campus as supportive services such as counseling, job skills development, and rehab. This model has been credited with a 77% reduction in homelessness in San Antonio and has polled favorably among Dallas residents.
Mayor Eric Johnson even visited Haven for Hope in August, but it remains to be seen whether City officials will pursue a similar approach.