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Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

New Drop-In Center To Help Pittsburgh's Homeless Youth

Homeless teenagers and young adults in Pittsburgh will soon have a drop-in center that will address a wide array of their needs.

The center will be called “412 Youth Zone” and will be targeted at youths between 16 and 24 years old, who are aging out of the foster care system. It will be located downtown in the Wood Street Commons building.

Local family agency Auberle will run the center and partner with other local agencies. They expect to serve about 1,500 young adults a year – that’s how many age out of the system.

Bill Wolfe, director of The Homeless Children’s Education Fund said the name was picked by some of the homeless youths who will have the opportunity to use it and they've been consulting on the décor.

The center will be partially open by the end of December.

John Lydon, executive director of Auberle said it will be a one-stop center for services such as workforce skills training, health services and laundry facilities.

“It will provide services, it will provide fun and most importantly it will provide a place where youth feel they can belong,” said Lydon.

Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services (DHS) visited similar centers in New York City and Philadelphia before setting up this one.

Abigail Horn, senior advisor for DHS,  said one of their initiatives in the past year has been working to raise services for homeless youth to extend to age 24. Lydon said that extension has been important – parents typically don’t stop helping children once they hit 18 or 21 – and for those who rely on services, she said they shouldn’t be cut off either.