In 1985 a unique coalition of members of the Schenectady community united to address serious concerns about teenage prostitution in Schenectady. These clergy, merchants, neighborhood activists, police, and other community leaders came to the realization that the true victims were the youth who engaged in this activity. These young people had been abused at home and ran to the street where they were exploited by the street life.
Safe started as a program of the Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM). Safe “spun off” from SICM, and became its own not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporation in 1996. Safe Inc. of Schenectady has two programs: Project Safe and Safe House, both of which serve at risk youth in all of Schenectady County.
Created in 1985, Project Safe provides comprehensive services on an outpatient basis to female and male individuals who are between 12 and 35 years old and who have engaged in street prostitution/survival sex or are at risk of sexual exploitation. Through intensive direct services (including counseling, life skills training, and securing housing) and referrals to other community service providers, Project Safe seeks to address each client’s needs. With the development of new skills, these clients have a positive alternative to not returning to the street life of sexual exploitation and further victimization.
Safe House is a temporary co-ed emergency youth shelter for homeless, runaway, and “throwaway” youth ages 16-20, and is certified by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The shelter has 11 beds for youth and can also accommodate a young child of a resident. Youth can remain in the shelter for up to 30 days and for an additional 30 days if there are extenuating circumstances. The shelter provides for the immediate physical needs (shelter, food, and clothing) of its residents. Safe Inc. provides counseling and referrals to address the causes of each youth’s homelessness and to obtain appropriate permanent housing. Safe House is the only temporary emergency youth shelter in Schenectady County to provide these services. Almost all of Safe’s clients have been abused and are low income. Safe has seen and measured the positive changes in the lives of these youth, many of whom have turned their lives around.