Waypoint acquires Rochester building for future home of youth resource center 

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Waypoint’s Youth Services staff in Rochester are overjoyed about the new building that will become Waypoint’s Youth Resource (drop-in) Center: (l-r) Ariel Hayes, Amy Malone, Joss Birnie, Tori Bird, Mandy Lancaster. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NHWaypoint is now the owner of 3 Wallace Street, in Rochester which will be transformed into the first and only drop-in center for youth and young adults who are experiencing housing instability in the Tri-City (Rochester, Somersworth, Dover) region.

The Center will serve as a welcoming space where young people, ages 12 – 23, can drop in for services, support, and basic needs relief.  It will feature free laundry facilities, showers, a food pantry, lockers, a clothing closet, grab and go meals, phone charging stations, computers, mail service, outside space, groups (peer and therapeutic), pro-social activities, help with education and employment, case management supports, and more.

According to Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, one in 10 young adults age 18 to 25, and at least one in 30 adolescents 13 to 17, experiences some form of homelessness over the course of a year in America.  It is estimated that approximately 14,000  – 15,000 youth will experience homelessness this year in New Hampshire.  Before the pandemic began, Waypoint staff and partners in the community noticed a spike in youth and young adults who were unsheltered.  Within the past year, Waypoint received 174 referrals in the Tri-city area alone.

According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, a coordinated community response is critical to preventing and ending youth/young adult homelessness, with drop-in centers serving as catalysts for prevention, identification, and early intervention.

“This expansion project is urgently needed,” says Mandy Lancaster, manager, Waypoint Homeless Youth and Young Adult Services.  “Currently, Waypoint’s Street Outreach staff are supporting over 100 young adults in the Tri-City and Seacoast region. There are youth in our communities who need additional support and a community plan that is responsive to their needs.  A drop-in center is a primary ingredient in truly addressing youth and young adult housing instability.  This was the logical next step.”

Building that will become new home of Waypoint Youth Resource Center.

Leading up to this decision to establish a center in Rochester, Waypoint spent several months conducting research and focus groups with providers, youth, and community leaders in the area, many of whom played a key role in advocating for this center.

“Waypoint’s youth drop-in center will be a game changer for homeless youth in Rochester and surrounding towns,” says Rochester City Councilor Palana Belken. “Their Seacoast Street Outreach Program already does tremendous work for our city and securing this location for a drop-in center will only further enhance Waypoint’s ability to create a safe place for youth experiencing homelessness.”

Youth in the region have expressed their eagerness for a center of this kind in their community. Bella, a former client from Rochester says, “centers are a holy grail for helping kids stay healthy and safe,”  while Madison of the Youth Success Project, says that a drop in Rochester is “a great opportunity for youth in our state who are experiencing housing instability.”

In New Hampshire, Waypoint is the sole provider of comprehensive services for youth experiencing homelessness, with sites in Manchester, Littleton, Concord, and 14 communities throughout the Seacoast and Tri-City region. Services are designed to cast a lifeline to youth, providing survival aid and basic needs relief, and provide opportunities that contribute to their long-term stability and success.  Further information can be found at www.waypointnh.org.

“This is part of a comprehensive, coordinated, and collaborative response to youth and young adult homelessness in NH” says Borja Alvarez de Toledo, president and CEO of Waypoint.  “On behalf of Waypoint and all the youth we serve, we thank the community for supporting this change-making initiative for the young people of New Hampshire.”

Waypoint will now renovate the space in hopes of opening the Center in early 2022.

Map of Waypoint youth center future location in Rochester.

Waypoint is an accredited, private, nonprofit organization in New Hampshire that works to empower people of all ages through an array of human services and advocacy.  www.waypointnh.org.