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Youth Homeless Shelter Initiative Secures Location at First Parish

By Sara A. Atske and Annie E. Schugart, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard Square Homeless Shelter’s Youth Housing Initiative, which has been working to launch a youth homeless shelter in Harvard Square, has secured a space for the shelter at First Parish in Cambridge.

Executive directors of the Youth Housing Initiative Samuel G. Greenberg ’14 and Sarah A. Rosenkrantz ’14 first proposed the idea for the youth homeless shelter to First Parish’s senior minister, Reverend Fred Small, more than a year ago. After working out logistics and considering financial impacts, the congregation voted 65-2 in favor of housing the shelter in the parish this past Sunday, according to Small.

“I think from the beginning there was tremendous eagerness to make this work because we felt that there was a clear need for the service that would be provided,” Small said.

The youth homeless shelter will be located in the basement auditorium of the church, according to a post on Small’s Facebook page. The shelter will operate alongside Youth on Fire, an LGBTQ-friendly drop-in center for homeless youth, to provide services for homeless youth ages 14 to 24 seven days a week. The overnight program will be available to youth 18 to 24, according to Small.

“The congregation seemed extremely excited, and that’s very uplifting considering how important this shelter is,” said Phillips Brooks House Association president Ceylon Auguste-Nelson ’16, who has been working with the rest of PBHA to help support the formation of the shelter. “We’ve been thinking about how the space is going to look, so it’s wonderful to see we really have people behind it.”

Although the project was a financial stretch for the parish, according to Small, the congregation decided that the costs would be well worth it.

“It’s a great example of what we want our program to do: a program being created to not just address the day-to-day needs and issues of youth homeless and LGBTQ homeless,” Auguste-Nelson said, “but the idea is that it will help a larger structural issue of homelessness and further the advocacy for that.”

Greenberg declined to comment on the shelter until an official launch event on April 13.

—Staff writer Sara A. Atske can be reached at

—Staff writer Annie Schugart can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AnnieSchugart.

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