Davis Education Foundation breaks ground on center to help homeless teens
Oct 30, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: Oct 31, 2023, 4:41 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Students in the Davis School District who don’t have a place to stay will now have one, along with the assistance to help them succeed.
The Davis Education Foundation broke ground Monday on a center to help homeless teens. It will be the only teen shelter that is affiliated with a school district, and is expected to open in the fall of 2024.
It was much more than a ceremonial groundbreaking for many people, including Laura Warburton, who was watching from a distance.
For her, it means a lot for her to see yet another resource for homeless teens taking shape because in many ways she knows what they go through.
“I was going to be a prostitute,” she said. “That was my idea. I didn’t know. I didn’t think I was good for anything else.”
Getting the needed help
Warburton says she was heading to San Francisco. After a bad experience, however, a teen shelter in California helped her.
“I was able to stay there.” she said. “They called my parents. They facilitated a reunification process.”
The living teen center will provide up beds up to 16 youth. And organizers with the Davis Education Foundation says it’s an important start.
“Well, currently we have about 300 young people in our secondary system who are experiencing housing insecurity,” said Jodi Lunt, director of the Davis Education Foundation. “Some are far more vulnerable than others.”
Teens who stay in the center will have to be currently enrolled in school, and how long they stay will depend on their case.
All of this is important to Warburton for another reason, as she worked with state lawmakers back in 2014 to pass legislation to make places like this possible in Utah.
Before then, shelters could only house teens for up to eight hours at a time.
Progress being made
For Warburton, it’s satisfying to see this kind of progress being made.
“I love the fact that it’s done by the school system,” she said. “Because then they can go to school, right? They can stay in school, feel that connection and have a safe place to stay at night.
Warburton says this will help even more teenagers.
“You’ll save kids,” she said. “You’ll save kids’ lives.”
Currently within the Davis School District, there are six teen centers where homeless students can get help during the day, with more to come.