Waypoint in Manchester acquired a former commercial site in Rochester that will be transformed into the first and only drop-in center for youth and young adults who are experiencing housing instability in the Tri-City (Rochester, Somersworth, Dover) region.
Waypoint will renovate the space in hopes of opening the Center in early 2022 to serve as a welcoming space where young people, ages 12 - 23, can drop in for services, support, and basic needs relief. It will feature free laundry facilities, showers, a food pantry, lockers, a clothing closet, grab and go meals, phone charging stations, computers, mail service, outside space, groups (peer and therapeutic), pro-social activities, help with education and employment, case management supports, and more.
Before the pandemic began, Waypoint staff and partners in the community noticed a spike in youth and young adults who were unsheltered. Within the past year, Waypoint received 174 referrals in the Tri-city area alone.
"This expansion project is urgently needed," says Mandy Lancaster, manager, Waypoint Homeless Youth and Young Adult Services. "Currently, Waypoint's Street Outreach staff are supporting over 100 young adults in the Tri-City and Seacoast region. There are youth in our communities who need additional support and a community plan that is responsive to their needs. A drop-in center is a primary ingredient in truly addressing youth and young adult housing instability. This was the logical next step."
Leading up to this decision to establish a center in Rochester, Waypoint spent several months conducting research and focus groups with providers, youth, and community leaders in the area, many of whom played a key role in advocating for this center.
"Waypoint's youth drop-in center will be a game changer for homeless youth in Rochester and surrounding towns," says Rochester City Councilor Palana Belken. "Their Seacoast Street Outreach Program already does tremendous work for our city and securing this location for a drop-in center will only further enhance Waypoint's ability to create a safe place for youth experiencing homelessness."
Waypoint is the sole provider of comprehensive services for youth experiencing homelessness, with sites in Manchester, Littleton, Concord, and 14 communities throughout the Seacoast and Tri-City region with services are designed to cast a lifeline to youth, providing survival aid and basic needs relief, and provide opportunities that contribute to their long-term stability and success.