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Suffolk County Youth Shelter To Provide Safe Haven To Kids In Crisis

The Suffolk County Youth Shelter opened this week to address the growing number of runaway and homeless children on Long Island.

The emergency youth shelter is replacing another that closed in 2014, which left hundreds of children in need.  

The Suffolk shelter opened behind schedule because of a lack of state and county funding.    

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony. He said the new shelter will be a center to serve a group in need.     

“That’s the problem. You know, these kids are in crisis. If you don’t have the central location where these kids can go to, it's very hard to deliver all of the services that are needed to address the issues.”

The West Babylon-based shelter will be the only one to serve all of Suffolk County. For nearly two years, there had been no shelter in Suffolk to serve the nearly 1,000 children who were on the run.

The new shelter is designed to house nine teenagers for up to a month.  

Bellone said the county is spending about $400,000 on the shelter, which is also getting funding from the state and private sources.

But, state funding—in the form of grants and operational contracts—have declined by over 70 percent in the last five years.

A week before the shelter opened, it had a $50,000 gap in funding.

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