Sonoma Co. homeless youth shelter says it needs $1 million to stay open

A Sonoma County emergency youth shelter says it is facing a financial crisis, and warned on Monday that it will be forced to close if it can't secure $1 million in 10 days. 

The organization, Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) says it would use the money to buy itself enough time to sell its campus, which it claims is worth around $12 million, and then regroup somewhere else.

"SAY is addressing the same challenges that all of our non-profits are facing in Sonoma County," said Susan Fette, interim CEO of Social Advocates for Youth.

The 53-year-old non-profit says soaring operational costs, donor fatigue since the pandemic, and the cost of responding to recent community disasters are just some of the financial pressures they’ve been facing. 

"Where will our children go if SAY is not there to continue that mission," said Jasmine Riley, who once relied on the shelter's services as a youth. 

"They provided me a warm safe place to sleep and rest, an opportunity to catch my breath and deal with the insurmountable anxiety that left me feeling loneliness and feeling unwanted," said Riley.

SAY is currently housing 67 homeless area youth, and three babies. The organization says it also provides mental health services to more than 400 kids each year.

"If we don’t take care of our kids, what kind of community are we," said Jason Lea, who used SAY services as a teen.