WACO, Texas – With centers to help children and adults experiencing homelessness, the Dobey Center provides tools and help to young adults transition into adulthood.
“It’s basically a safe place for youths to come and get the tools they need to transition into independence as a young adult,” Nicole Wiscombe said.
Some say it was about time the community got a place like this to help this age range.
“Up until now, there hasn’t really been a place like this for young adults dealing with homelessness or housing instability,” Ron Kimbell said.
With certain benefits going away after a child turns 18, and with some leaving foster care, the ages of 18-24 become a critical time for people to learn the skills they need to enter adulthood.
“Having a drop-in center for 18-24 year olds we saw as a crucial need, because it’s a big transition age for youth,” Wiscombe said. “They’re leaving high school, they may be leaving foster care, they may be leaving other support systems that they have, and they’re moving into young adulthood and they’re learning how to have that independence.”
Most of the people served at the Dobey Center don’t exactly fit the traditional definition of homelessness – instead fitting into a category the staff calls “housing instability.”
“Homelessness does not always look like – especially in this age range – being without a house or a home,” Kimbell said. “In some cases it does, but in others we’re trying to target those who have unstable housing situations, unstable living situations.”
Housing instability can mean someone has a home, but it may not have running water or they may not know where their next meal is coming from. At the Dobey Center, young adults can come through and make a meal or take a shower, but they can also search for and apply for jobs in the center’s computer lab.
All these amenities and resources are designed to attain the ultimate goal – for these young adults to not have to experience homelessness into adulthood.
“I believe having a place like this where all those things, if not available here, can be connected to here. Can play a huge, huge role in helping someone navigate this transitional period,” Kimbell said.
The Dobey Center is located at 2111 Austin Avenue in Waco.