Auburn Youth Resources was founded in 1973 to help kids in trouble and their families.
Since then, the Auburn-based nonprofit organization – today known as Nexus Youth and Families – has provided youth homelessness and behavioral health services in the city and throughout South King County.
But like nonprofits everywhere, Nexus struggles every day to keep the doors open so it can continue to provide its vital services to youth and their families in the area.
“I think people need to realize that agencies like ours are funded to do a $10 job with a $2 bill,” explained Michael Jackson, interim executive director of Nexus. “So, yes, we’ve been struggling financially.”
A year and a half ago, Nexus’s board of directors, taking stock of its reputation and that of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, their relationship and their shared missions. approached it for help.
The YMCA pored over Nexus’ finances, its organization, its staff, everything.
And then made up its collective mind.
On Nov. 5, the YMCA of Greater Seattle announced it would acquire Nexus in the coming months.
Jackson explained why this is a good thing.
“We are already established down here with the things we have been doing for the past 46 years, and so the Y and their social service branch, the Accelerator Y, will be able to come down here and show us what we don’t do well,” he said. “They do transitional housing for kids. They house, like, 300 kids; right now, our transitional housing is probably 18 kids, so we’ll be able to expand on that.
“We’re going to keep doing the outreach and the behavioral health that we do here,” Jackson continued, “and we’ll be able to hire more therapists. We can increase our staff, the Y’s staff, too, with the addition of our 65 employees. It’s a nice mixture that’s going to happen that will benefit the whole community, not just in South King County but wherever the Y has its social work going on as well.”
The Y is the largest provider of housing and holistic services for homeless young adults in King County. In 2018, it provided behavioral health and crisis support to over 2,000 youth and their families.
“Homelessness is on the forefront of everyone’s mind,” Loria Yeadon, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, said in a release. “Our work and the work of so many others has led to a decline in the number of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.
“We’re so glad to see more young people housed, but we still need to do more,” Yeadon continued. “By acquiring Nexus Youth and Families, we can serve more youth and young adults, find more efficiencies and strengthen our presence in South King County so all people, especially youth, can reach their fullest selves in mind, body and spirit.”
The acquisition comes at a time when many young people struggle to find homes and resources. According to All Home’s 2019 Count Us In report, more than 1,000 unaccompanied youth and young adults in King County are homeless on any night, and more than half of them live on the streets. Simultaneously, death by suicide among teens and young adults has reached its highest level since 2000, according to the American Medical Association.
Earlier this year, the Y partnered with Nexus to build a first-of-its-kind facility in Auburn that addresses youth and young adult homelessness. New Arcadia will provide transitional housing for 15 young adults and provide emergency shelter and holistic services for 12 more. The housing portion will include storage space and common areas, a community kitchen, office and conference spaces, and a drop-in center during the day. The Y and Nexus broke ground on New Arcadia in June 2019 and expect to open the facility next spring.
“Being able to provide our much needed services in South King County is the top priority of the Nexus’ Board of Directors,” said Lori Coppenrath, Nexus Board Chair. “I have 100 percent confidence that the acquisition between the Y and Nexus will mean better outcomes for those we serve, enhance our staff’s experience, and create collaboration that provides the best services for those who need us most in South King County. It’s a no brainer.”
“We’re excited, we’re confused because we still don’t know what it’s going to look like,” Jackson said. “We’ve got staffing issues right now. My building across the hall is going to be revamped, and we’ve got to cram 20 more people into this building. We’ve got so much going on right now, we don’t know if we’re coming or going.
Jackson cautioned supporters.
“Just because the Y is coming aboard, don’t give up on us,” Jackson said. “We still need you as a donor, we still need you as a supporter, we still need you as a mouthpiece for Nexus and the Y. We don’t know what our name is going to be, probably something to do with the Y, but we still need the community’s support. We’re going to have our Valentine Breakfast on Valentine’s Day next year and we need you to come out for that.”