By Scott Hammers

The Bulletin

A Bend organization has been awarded more than $1 million in grants to combat youth homelessness and human trafficking.

Cascade Youth & Family Center, a program of J Bar J Youth Services, will receive the money from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the next three years.

Amanda Gow, director of community programs for J Bar J, said the organization is planning to launch a “street outreach” program for homeless youth similar to one it operated in the past. It hopes to have case managers in the community to provide homeless teens with food, warm clothing, emergency medical services and a place to sleep. A 24-hour hotline will be established for homeless teens in crisis.

J Bar J operates the LOFT, a transitional housing facility on Century Drive for homeless teens, and works with private residents who will provide homeless teens with a place to stay in their homes for up to a month.

Oregon ranks fifth among the states with the highest rates of homelessness for unaccompanied minors, Gow said.

Gow said the program will aim to serve more than 300 people per year.

The planned human trafficking program will build off of existing relationships Cascade Youth & Family Center has with other agencies and organizations on human trafficking-related issues. It is intended to serve as a hub for such issues for all of Central and Eastern Oregon.

Mel Parker with J Bar J said the program will be able to serve as many as 40 victims annually, and provide services such as substance abuse and mental health counseling, transitional housing and legal and financial advocacy.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387,