Pleasanton, California (EastBayDaily) — HomeAid Northern California and Alameda Family Services celebrated the Groundbreaking of the renovated site for “Nika’s Place”, Alameda County’s only emergency shelter for runaway, thrown away and homeless teens between the ages of 13 and 18. The new site, located in downtown Oakland, will require approximately $740,000 in renovations to bring it up to building code standards. Once completed, the new building will expand to include a transitional living program for commercially sexually exploited female minors and a support center for high risk youth. The purchase of the building was made possible by funds from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors through the leadership of Health Care Services Agency Director Alex Briscoe.
The project will be named “Nika’s Place” after Nika St. Claire who was the shelter director for the past ten years. Nika St. Claire was killed in an automobile accident in Arizona, along with her daughter. Nika was a guiding light and mainstay of the DreamCatcher Homeless Shelter where she was a source of inspiration to dozens of runaway, homeless and sexually exploited teenagers. Nika helped DreamCatcher realize a long-standing goal to expand its shelter and services with this new facility.
A program of Alameda Family Services, DreamCatcher has been a safety net for youth who do not have the family, support system or necessary life skills, tools and resources to live on their own. DreamCatcher is one of the few resources available to the estimated 300 youth who are homeless or couch surfing on any given night in Alameda County. Three out of four leave their homes because of abuse or neglect. According to Marcus, aged 14, “DreamCatcher is the first family I’ve ever had”.
On the street, young people are disproportionately victimized physically and sexually. According to the National Institute for Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrown Away Children, one out of every three teens on the street will be lured toward the sex industry within 48 hours of leaving home. “We have the responsibility and the privilege of helping our youth when they are most vulnerable,” said former Alameda County Board of Supervisor Lai-Bitker. “By supporting DreamCatcher and ‘Nika’s Place ’, patrons help to ensure the program’s future, and therefore the safety and prosperity of at-risk youth – support from the community is essential at a time when state funding cannot be counted on.”
About DreamCatcher DreamCatcher provides shelter and protection, counseling and positive activities; it helps youth develop a sense of independence and control over their lives, which helps them on a productive path. Ninety-six percent of the youth served have been successfully placed by returning to his or her home, to a relative or a friend, or to a transitional living program or to the foster care system. Youth who have been through DreamCatcher have gone on to finish high school, enter college, find jobs, and become productive citizens of our community. For information on services, contact Alameda Family Services at (510) 629-6311.
About HomeAid Northern California HomeAid Northern California is a 501c(3) non-profit organization founded in 1999 as the charitable arm of the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area. HomeAid has built and remodeled 18 shelters and facilities for the transitionally homeless in nearly every county in the San Francisco Bay Area in collaboration with the homebuilding industry and its vendors, partners and suppliers. In addition to providing a safe, comfortable home, the shelters typically offer counseling and job training as core components of their programs – ultimately offering “a hand up, not a hand out”. A complete list of current and completed shelters can be found on the website at homeaidnc.org.
HomeAid Northern California