Life House provides for virtually every need of young people who have been left to fend for themselves on the streets. More importantly, however, Life House provides a place of acceptance, safety, and belonging where youth can reclaim a positive, healthy, and hopeful future. Incorporated in 1991, Life House has provided homeless and street youth ages 14 to 24 with unconditional support, transitional housing, and a safe alternative to the streets. Life House serves approximately 900 unduplicated youth and additionally their young children annually. In 1996, Life House opened the first transitional living facility for homeless youth in Minnesota.
Our mission is to reconnect homeless and street youth to their dreams. In 2005, Life House implemented the Futures Program to help youth overcome barriers to achieving self-sufficiency by providing on-site programming in education and employment. In 2009, the Life House began providing mental health services through the drop-in center. In 2013, Life House was selected as one of four agencies statewide, under the Safe Harbor Act, to provide safe housing to sexually exploited and trafficked minors.
The Life House staff of 40 full-time employees is comprised of a close-knit team of professionals including Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, licensed teachers, Masters and Bachelors of Social Work and Psychology as well as staff equally credentialed in the first-hand experience of homelessness. Life House strives to recruit a diverse team in terms of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and cultural backgrounds. Clients participate in the hiring process to ensure new staff possesses the innate ability to relate to homeless and struggling youth.
Helping Homeless Youth
Positive Youth Development: Life House utilizes the Positive Youth Development (PYD) theory of change when working with youth. At its core, PYD is about people, programs, institutions, and systems that provide youth with the support and opportunities they need to empower themselves. For more details about Life House’s approach, click here or read Richard M. Lerner’s paper about Positive Youth Development here.
Harm Reduction: Rather than requiring sobriety as a pre-condition to program acceptance, Life House espouses a harm reduction approach, which focuses on keeping youth safe and alive while addressing the myriad conditions that promote substance abuse. Homeless youth use drugs to self-medicate; insisting or requiring sobriety in the absence of safe and stable housing and acceptable coping alternatives is, as a practical matter, a barrier to effective treatment.
Stepping On Up
Life House supports the Stepping On Up proposal as an innovative idea designed to change the progression of homelessness in our community. This three-phase plan addresses the needs of those experiencing homelessness by meeting people where they are at in a dignified and sustainable way. This program is designed to be a fluid system that utilizes existing community resources more efficiently and benefits the people we are serving in a way that builds strength in individuals and strength in the community.
Life House 102 W. First Street Duluth, MN 55802 218-722-7431 www.lifehouseduluth.org