Male runaways and boys aged 16 to 20 who are kicked out of their homes will have no place to go in Oakland County unless the Department of Health and Human Services changes its mind. The federal agency last week denied a five-year, $1 million grant for a program at Common Ground Sanctuary shelter in Royal Oak, ending 15 years of funding. The Sanctuary’s “A Step Forward” program takes boys and girls who are in school and have jobs and trains them for up to 18 months on how to make it on their own. The program costs about $1,000 a day; the grant covers half. Other Oakland shelters take girls aged 16-20, but none take boys that age.
The Sanctuary program houses seven teens at a time and always has a waiting list, says Martha Button, Sanctuary spokeswoman. The shelter has appealed HHS’s denial on the premise that it may be in error. If the government doesn’t reissue the grant, the program is likely to be yanked in December, Button says. The Sanctuary itself, a shelter that services more than 30,000 people annually with programs including a 24-hour crisis hotline and emergency psychiatric services, is not in danger, she says. To donate to the shelter or “A Step Forward,” call 248-456-8150.
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