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Valley Metro designated four new light-rail stations in Mesa, Ariz., as “safe places” for homeless or runaway youth through a partnership with local nonprofit Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development.Since 2013, the transit agency has been implementing the "Safe Place" program by offering 24-hour help at light-rail stations to teens who are homeless, neglected or abused, Valley Metro officials said in a press release."Safe Place is designed to do exactly that — provide a safe place for teens in crisis," said Cynthia Schuler, chief executive officer of Tumbleweed. "Because of the training Valley Metro has done with its front line staff and the visibility of Safe Place at light rail stations, Tumbleweed staff was able to provide the teens with immediate housing and basic needs."With the opening of the Mesa light-rail extension earlier this month, a total of 32 light-rail stations now serve as safe places for these youth, Valley Metro officials said.An additional three light-rail stations will be designated Safe Place contact spots when the agency opens the Northwest Extension in spring 2016. "With the extension of light rail into central Mesa, Valley Metro is extending its commitment to the community through Safe Place,” said Steve Banta, Valley Metro chief executive officer. "Light-rail stations are a community asset that is designed to provide a safe space for everyone, most notably our youth."
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