About

Incorporated in 1991, Life House has provided homeless and street youth ages 14-21 with unconditional support, transitional housing, and a safe alternative to the streets for almost 25 years. Life House operates the only youth drop-in center in northeastern Minnesota, serving approximately 600 unduplicated youth and 75 of their young children annually. In 1996 Life House opened the first transitional living facility for homeless youth in Minnesota.

Our mission is to reconnect homeless and street youth to their dreams.

In 2005, Life House implemented the Futures Program to help youth overcome barriers to achieving self-sufficiency by providing on-site programming in education and employment. In 2009, the Life House began providing mental health services through the drop-in center. In 2013, Life House was selected as one of four agencies statewide, under the Safe Harbor Act, to provide safe housing to sexually exploited and trafficked minors.

The Life House staff of 18 full-time and 2 part-time employees is comprised of a close-knit team of professionals including a LICSW, LADC, licensed teacher, MSWs, BSWs, as well as staff equally credentialed in the first-hand experience of homelessness. Life House strives to recruit a diverse team in terms of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and cultural background. Clients participate in the hiring process to ensure new staff possess the innate ability to relate to street youth.

Our philosophies

Positive Youth Development: Life House utilizes the Positive Youth Development (PYD) theory of change when working with youth. At its core, PYD is about people, programs, institutions and systems that provide youth with the support and opportunities they need to empower themselves. For more details about Life House’s approach, click here or read Richard M. Lerner’s paper about Positive Youth Development here.

Harm Reduction: Rather than requiring sobriety as a pre-condition to program acceptance, Life House espouses a harm reduction approach, which focuses on keeping youth safe and alive while addressing the myriad conditions that promote substance abuse.  Homeless youth use drugs to self-medicate; insisting or requiring sobriety in the absence of safe and stable housing and acceptable coping alternatives is, as a practical matter, a barrier to effective treatment.  For more information about principles of harm reduction, click here.