- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (AP) - A teen shelter opening Friday in Brooklyn Park is the first in the Twin Cities suburbs.

Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1KelBZJ ) reports the shelter will take in homeless people ages 16 to 20 who can’t find safe places to stay. Brooklyn Park spent $950,000 to build the facility, which will be run by Minneapolis nonprofit Avenues for Homeless Youth.

Brooklyn Park Police Lt. Toni Weinbeck said homeless teens in the northwest suburb are at risk of being victimized by adults who take them in. A sex trafficking ring she investigated in 2011 had 11 victims.

Weinbeck, who commands the overnight shift, said she talked with Mayor Jeff Lunde about doing something to help.

“I was so passionate about it, I was pounding tables,” Weinbeck said. “I was telling him we just don’t have the resources for those victims, for those runaways. And he took that and ran with it.”

The rooms in the 12-bed shelter, called Brooklyn Avenues, resemble single-occupancy dorms with a bed, desk and armoire. Most will stay at the shelter for three to four months as they learn how to live on their own.

Volunteers have stocked up donations, including blankets, soap and toothbrushes. Deb Loon, executive director of Avenues for Homeless Youth, said the community worked together to create the shelter.

“Their collective goal is to create a safe place for their kids so that they can stay in their community, continue to go to school, get the support they need and remain community members here instead of having to leave and go to the city to get their help,” Loon said.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org


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