New shelter to help Brooklyn Park combat sex crime - KMSP-TV

New shelter to help Brooklyn Park combat sex crime

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New shelter to be modeled after one in north Minneapolis New shelter to be modeled after one in north Minneapolis
BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (KMSP) -

The Mayor of Brooklyn Park says because 16- to 20-year-old runaways are often targets of sex crime, and a new shelter will help the city combat the issue.

Having long ago survived the world of sex trafficking, Joy Friedman now serves as the programming director for Breaking Free, a nonprofit combating sex trafficking in Minnesota since 1996.

"If this homeless shelter would've been there and I would've been made aware of it, it could've stopped so much," she said.

Friedman is a survivor. She was homeless at an incredibly young age.

"I was out in the streets trying to figure out what to do with my life. There were circumstances and situations in my life that made it so I could not live at home," she said.

As a teen, Friedman was targeted by sexual predators.

"They will see that you look lost, that you look sad that you look lonely because you are," Friedman added.

Friedman, while pleased to learn Brooklyn Park's City Council approved a proposal to spend $800,000 to build a teen homeless shelter admits the issue is so widespread.

"At least there'll be one more place besides Breaking Free," she said. "It's a flick in the puddle it's not even a drop in a bucket."

The suburban facility will house 10 to 12 teens at one time.

Mayor Jeff Lunde told Fox 9 the shelter will be named Brooklyn Avenues for Homeless Youth to be modeled after this shelter Avenues for Homeless Youth in north Minneapolis. Teens stay for an average of 90 to 120 days. By the time young people get there, they've experienced an array of trauma.

From Friedman's experience, she knows all too well the complexity of the violence homeless teens often endure.

"I'm dealing with family abuse, I'm dealing with rape, I'm dealing with sex trafficking and being bought and sold, you want me to do that in 90 days or 120 days and be okay? Realistically? No," she said.

Others acknowledge the new shelter as an opportunity for the community to come together, not necessarily a panacea.

Construction on the new shelter is expected to begin in June and available for homeless teens in November. A fundraiser to support the services that will be provided at the shelter will take place April 4 at Discover Church in Brooklyn Park with a $50,000 goal.

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