The Garage, A Teen Cafe is hoping to raise enough funds to kickstart their Host Homes project for unhoused Issaquah youth. The nonprofit organization is a space exclusively for high school teens, while their drop-in center Blackthorn Haven, offers immediate assistance to youth.
On September 21, The Garage held an open house to discuss a potential Host Homes project, which would serve unhoused Issaquah youth or youth at risk of being unhoused.
The open house was an opportunity for the community to learn about opening homes for those ages 12-18 for short-term or long-term stays. According to KayLee Jaech, Executive Director of The Garage, 20 people attended the open house and four approached her afterwards for serious conversations about becoming a host home.
“It felt very successful. I continue to raise money to get us to a place where we can lease space and launch the program,” said KayLee Jaech.
Host Homes is a volunteer network of local families who are willing to open their homes to unhoused teens, and the program is authorized under Washington state law. Host homes undergo rigorous background checks, interviews and training.
The goal of kickstarting a Host Homes project in Issaquah is to keep the city’s youth in their community where they have better chances of stabilizing, continuing positive connections, staying in school and finding permanent housing, said Jaech.
Issaquah School District’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction report card identified about 100 unhoused youth each year, while experts suggest that the actual number is greater. To access housing and services, Issaquah youth frequently travel to Kirkland, Bothell, Everett and Auburn, according to The Garage.
So far, The Garage has reached 30% of their fundraising goal, which they hope to meet by the end of the calendar year. Jaech said the goal to start operating at is $100,000 and the organization has raised $35,000 so far. Jaech mentioned that the total yearly budget is set at $560,000.
Those interested in supporting a Host Homes project in Issaquah can donate here or send a check to P.O. Box 1982, Issaquah WA 98027.