Davis School District to open residential center for high school students facing housing challenges
Davis County high school students facing housing difficulties will have an opportunity for help in the near future.
Later this month, the Davis School District in partnership with other entities — private and public — will move forward on building a teen residential center to assist students facing housing insecurity.
Jodi Lunt, executive director of the Davis Education Foundation, told the Standard Examiner that housing insecurity is a growing issue in the county, especially among youth.
“In Davis County, we have more than 1,600 students that experience housing insecurity,” she said. “The concern came about that if these young people do not have a safe, stable, reliable place to reside, it’s hard to stay in school. And when you don’t stay in school, intergenerational poverty continues and crisis and trauma continue.”
She said there aren’t currently any housing options for local youth facing homelessness.
The temporary transitional housing unit, located on Fort Lane near the Layton High School football field, will have 16 beds for students who are housing insecure. It will also feature laundry facilities, a kitchen and other basic residential amenities. The center will be staffed all day and night throughout the year and will be run and overseen by the nonprofit organization Switchpoint.
The center is a public-private partnership that includes the contributions of the Davis School District, the Davis Education Foundation and several other entities.
In addition to basic amenities, the teen residential center will also host services including tutoring, Davis County Social Services, post-secondary employment preparation, life skills training and mentoring.
Over the last couple of years, several teen centers have been opened at Davis School District high schools that offer students in similar circumstances a place to study, shower, do laundry and get food. These are anticipated to be in place at all Davis School District high schools by the beginning of next school year.
Lunt said a number of lessons have been learned from this experience that are being applied to the teen residential center.
“The biggest lesson that we learned is that we have young people who had more than just personal hygiene and food insecurity issues,” she said. “They actually need a safe and stable place to sleep at night so they can remain in school and continue in a positive and forward trajectory.”
She said that the standalone center will be a “high-barrier” facility, “meaning the opportunity to stay here is one that comes with accountability and we have an expectation that this is a place that’s safe for you to move forward from.”
“All students who will be using this facility must have parental consent,” she said. “They must be enrolled in a Davis County school. They must be employed part-time or be involved in extracurricular activities. They must commit to being on track to graduate.”
The school district will make recommendations for residency by way of a referral process. While largely aimed at high school students in the Davis School District, Lunt said, “there will be a process to serve students who are not attending our schools and each case will be reviewed and assessed.”
Lunt said plans are to break ground on the teen residential center Oct. 24 with completion ideally coming before the start of the 2024-2025 school year.
“This has been one of the most incredible experiences in my 33 years in education,” she said. “To actually be able to work hand-in-hand with the community in providing resources to our most vulnerable youth is fulfilling, it has purpose and there’s definitely a need in our community to ensure that these students have the same opportunities and access to opportunities that oftentimes due to their circumstances they don’t have.”