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New Phoenix shelter offers help for homeless young adults

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PHOENIX – At age 22, Benjamin Jensen has been homeless for five years after a falling out with his mother, who he said was abusing drugs.

Jensen found that as a young adult he was ineligible for foster care and not able to have his needs fully met by shelters geared toward older adults.

But this week he will be able to move into a new shelter aimed at helping those between the ages of 18 and 25 become self-sufficient. It’s a place that Jensen said will provide him with the resources he needs to earn his high school diploma and find a job.

“I’m happy just to have a roof over my head,” Jensen said. “It’s a life-changer.”

On Thursday, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton helped dedicated the 30-bed facility operated by the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development.

“There are no throwaway people in our city,” Stanton said.

“What goes on inside these rooms is going to be something very, very beautiful,” he added. “It gives these kids so much of a sense of dignity and pride and hope for their future.”

Tumbleweed CEO Cynthia Shuler said the shelter, located on East Van Buren Street near North 32nd Street, will help prevent young adults from becoming chronically homeless.

“This has been a gap in services,” she said.

In addition to 90 days of transitional housing, shelter residents will receive help from case managers with Tumbleweed’s Youth Resource Centers as well as access to longer-term transitional housing, education and job training through the organization.

Shuler said the repurposed building, located in a former Travelodge, offers “a wonderful place with a lot of dignity and respect.”

Stanton said the facility complements his administration’s mission of ending homelessness in Phoenix.

“The issue of homelessness is a bigger issue than most people understand or appreciate,” he said.