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News >  Idaho

Optimist Club Youth House opens for young adults in need

By Bowen West (Twin Falls) Times-News

TWIN FALLS, Idaho – Alex Frandsen considers herself lucky.

She was in two foster-care homes before she lived with her grandmother for two years. When she was 18 years old, she was homeless. She lived out of motels for months.

Now, Anderson is the first resident living in the Twin Falls Optimist Club’s Youth House.

“I’ve been living out of boxes for months,” Frandsen told the Times-News. “I can see this place being home for me.”

The Youth House has opened its doors to young adults who have transitioned out of the foster care program.

The Youth House will serve as a transitional home and will house young adults. Residents will have a two-year lease and pay $100 per month plus 10 percent of the utilities. Life-skills classes – from how to cook to how to pay bills – will be taught by community members. The ultimate goal is to prepare them for the next step in their lives, said Barry Knoblich, president of the Optimist Club Foundation and Youth House project manager.

“There was nothing here for them,” Knoblich said. “Now they have a place.”

To live in the house, potential residents must fill out an application before being screened. The residents make a commitment to be sober and employed or in school when signing the lease.

Club President Anna Scholes said the project was a “no-brainer” for the Optimist Club.

“These kids don’t have anywhere to go,” Scholes said. “I have an 18-year-old. The idea of him trying to figure out cooking, budgeting and everything out on his own is awful.

“We provide these kids with an opportunity to learn these things. This place gives them a chance to learn.”

Liz Haugee, secretary for the club and designer of the house, said that the remodeling on the 1900s house on Third Avenue North was extensive. The house needed a new roof, a new heating system and more. Fundraisers and community support made the $115,000 remodel possible.

The building is owned by Twin Falls County and is leased to the Twin Falls Optimist Club for $1 a year.

The remodeling was as much work as building three houses, Knoblich said. The house has three floors with multiple bathrooms and a kitchen and it is ADA accessible. It will be able to accommodate 18 young adult residents and two resident advisers.

“These kids have had enough instability in their lives,” Knoblich said. “We made this place because we care.”

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