Columbia, SC (WLTX) - About 1.3 million young adults are living on the streets, in abandoned buildings or with friends or strangers according to the National Runaway Switchboard. The organization said these young adults are at a higher risk of abuse, sexual exploitation, mental disabilities, substance abuse and death.
There are many resources trying to bring down that number and the Mental Illness Recovery Center Incorporated (MIRCI) is one of them.
"There's just a variety of reasons individuals of that age become homeless," Julie Ann Avin said. "The ultimate goal is to have people enter housing, exit homelessness, complete education that's needed, job training, and be able to be a part of our community, self sustaining."
Their youth drop-in center is located at 1433 Gregg Street in Columbia and there's no commitment. You can come in whenever the center is open and it works with the anyone between the ages of 17 and 24.
"I suffer from depression and anxiety," Atlantis Jones said. "They really help me brighten up my day and you know they make me smile and sometimes I'll cry a little and you know I feel like I need that tight embracing hug and they give me that when I need that."
You can keep your belongings in lockers, take a hot shower, clean your clothes and relax with a hot meal while playing video games or a game of pool.
"It actually feels pretty well. I've actually felt this feeling before, just not lately until I started coming to this place. It's a very nice place," Tavarius Elliott said.
The center closes at 5 p.m., but staff will work to find you a place to stay overnight.
Other resources include the RUTH House, which takes in expecting teenage girls and provides pregnancy support, the Palmetto Place Children's Center and Lighthouse for Life, which helps victims of sex trafficking.
The RUTH House is a part of the Jannie R. Jackson Women's Center. It is located at 2527 Atlas Road. The organization's phone number is 803-776-6353.
The Palmetto Place Children's Center's phone number is 803-786-6819, Lighthouse for Life's phone number is 803-900-0907 and the phone number for MIRCI is 803-786-1844.