The Mat-Su School District estimates there are close to 500 homeless teens and young adults in the Mat-Su Valley.
But despite the numbers, the Valley has no shelter for homeless teens. Many at-risk youth end up at Covenant House in Anchorage, some 50 miles away. Many receive no services at all. Now, a Valley nonprofit would like to change that.
My House is a drop-in center in Wasilla for at-risk teens and young adults. It’s a place where teens can find resources, even jobs. My House operates a number of businesses at the center, including a café, a car-detailing service and thrift store. My House founder Michelle Overstreet said the work helps teens earn a paycheck and learn valuable skills, but she hopes it opens their eyes to even more.
“The goal is to create a place where kids want to come,” Overstreet said. “A place where they feel proud to work and are inspired. We don’t just want them to learn how to be an $8 an hour barista. We want them to learn how to be an $8 an hour barista, then go on to culinary school or some other training program they feel excited about.”
Being able to offer youth a place to stay is the next step in helping them get back on their feet, Overstreet said. She said the Valley has a need for at least five emergency beds. Adding another five beds to that could help youth who are transitioning to be on their own. Overstreet said she hopes to make that a priority in the near future.