COLUMBIA - In November 2007, Rainbow House, an organization that takes in and advocates for abused children, opened a program for homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 21 years old called Sol House.
Now, just a little more than five years later, Sol House is being forced to shut its doors. In 2007 Rainbow House was awarded $150,000 for the program for the next five years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human services. When the grant expired at the end of last year, the Rainbow House reapplied asking for a slight increase in funding to $200,000 a year for the next five years but was denied altogether.
Five other Missouri youth homeless programs applied for the grant last year and four, including Columbia, were denied. Now Sol House is seeking funding from other sources in hopes of re-opening its doors, its also reapplied to the government funded grant, according to Jan Stock, director of the Rainbow House.
"There is a real need for the program. There are a lot of youth out there and what we're finding is many of those youth want to be in school, they want to lead productive lives. They've just been put in a position where they weren't able to and so having a program like this gives them a leg up and allows them to be productive citizens," Stock said.
One of the youth living at the Sol House when the funding was cut was moved to Rainbow House's teen shelter program. The others were placed in permanent homes.
Since its opening in 2007, the Sol House has seen 82 homeless youth come in and out of its doors. Stock said over the years the Sol House has had 214 names on its wait list. Stock said that number will continue to grow until the house gets enough funding to open back up.
If and when the Sol House gets enough funding Stock said it will be a challenge to get in touch with some of the kids on the list.
"Because they're homeless, many of them don't have a cell phone, they don't have an address. So even when you do have an opening if they're not checking in with you consistently you may not be able to reach them," Stock said.
The Sol House staff is still trying to help youth in its other programming like its employment skills service, educational help, counseling and life skills training.
Stock said if they get another substantial grant the Sol house could be back in action by March.
You can donate or get involved with Rainbow House here.