“The House” shelter assisting homeless youth amidst sustained extreme heat

According to the organization, youth homelessness is a challenge in the Grand Valley
The House assists homeless youth in Mesa County.
The House assists homeless youth in Mesa County.(KKCO/KJCT)
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 6:54 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - With day after day of triple-digit temperatures in the Grand Valley, people with limited resources can be especially vulnerable in regards to the extremely hot weather. One such group is homeless youth.

According to “The House,” a youth homeless shelter, the sustained extreme temperatures the valley is seeing pose yet another challenge to the state of youth homelessness in the Grand Valley.

John Mok-Lamme, Executive Director of The House, says that Mesa County sees about 300 to 400 youth between the ages of 13 and 24 homeless every year. According to Mok-Lamme, “If we can get youth into housing, that’s gonna be the biggest difference. We’re super excited that we have 34, 40 youth at Laurel House. Almost all those youth were on the street last year, many of them in cars, underneath bridges. So they are really protected.”

Homelessness can leave people completely exposed to the elements with little relief from extreme conditions like the area is seeing this week. According to meteorologist Brad Miller, even though Western Colorado experiences high temperatures every summer, recent conditions have gone beyond ordinary seasonal weather. “We do deal with heat every year in Western Colorado, but this is kind of unprecedented heat for us. We’re talking this extended stretch of days well above a hundred degrees. It’s just something you don’t see very often here, and it is something that can cause problems.”

The House says protecting homeless youth from the elements is an important aspect of their work. The shelter provides spaces for youth experiencing homelessness as well as a drop-in location at Fourth St. and Main St. for relief from the heat during the day.

The shelter explains that providing housing to those in need addresses a variety of issues for at-risk youth. In addition to increased exposure to the elements, homeless youth are more likely to engage in drug and criminal activity. Mok-Lamme details how, “We still have youth that are homeless, and we need to get them off the street, so they can be protected from the elements. And we know that youth on the street are at increased risk for trafficking, sexual assault, substance use, and criminal involvement.”

The House says it wants to be these teenagers’ and young adults’ best defense against the heat and other conditions they are exposed to on the streets.

Those interested in finding out more or supporting The House can do so on the organization’s website. The House is currently seeking volunteers to assist in their work as well.

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