FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Sanctuary Youth Shelter in Fresno permanently closed this month following a decision by the Fresno EOC. The operators say the facility permanently shut its doors after 30 years of operation due to a lack of clients – but those against the decision say Fresno EOC did not do enough outreach.

The Sanctuary Youth Shelter offered emergency shelter and supportive services to runaway and homeless youth. The Fresno EOC says that youth under 24 years of age will still have a safe place to drop in at the 1046 T Street in Fresno for immediate access to assessment of services. They will also be able to work directly with the Fresno County Department of Social Services for any unaccompanied minors that are unable to safely reunite with their families.

The former youth shelter will be used to expand bridge housing for homeless young adults ages 18 to 24 thanks to recent funding from the City of Fresno.

The FEOC says that one of the reasons for the closure is that it had not provided overnight shelter to any clients since November 2021. This is due to many factors including, the pandemic, an increase in local family shelters, the success of various local prevention programs, and the restrictive definition of eligible youth from funding sources.

Advocates for the Sanctuary Youth Shelter, have formed a group called, Save Our Sanctuary. They argue that there was never enough outreach to inform the youth that there was a safe place out there where they can go. Stating that last year alone there were 3,369 children reported as runaways/missing according to a report from the California Department of Justice.

They worry that with the only youth sanctuary not only in Fresno County but the Central Valley closed, some of the most vulnerable youth will not have a designated safe place to go.

For more information on the current sanctuary and support services from FEOC visit their website. November is National Runaway Prevention Month.