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NW Ohio youth shelters experiencing uptick in teens needing housing

Right now in Ohio, 47 teens and children are classified as missing or endangered. Some date all the way back to the 1950s.

TOLEDO, Ohio — November is National Runaway Prevention month and many local organizations are working to bring awareness to the number of children and teens currently missing across the state.

Right now in Ohio, 47 teens and children are classified as missing or endangered - some of whom date all the way back to the 1950s. We've seen a number of local incidents, even over the past week that involve a runaway teen.  

RELATED: TPD: 8-year-old girl found safe after being reported missing from west Toledo

The Zepf Center is one local organization working to connect young members of our community to the resources they need.

Organizers run a shelter for anyone in need of housing, especially teens who are at risk. They say typically around this time of year they see more people reaching out for help. 

Many homeless people, especially teens, start to look for shelter when the weather gets colder.

"In northwest Ohio it’s getting cold, and so this is when we tend to see a little bit of an uptick of people coming for support and help and safety," said Zepf Center CEO Deb Flores. "You know they don’t want to be out in the community. There’s research that says that they are three times more likely to be contacted by someone who is involved in human trafficking."

To bring awareness to this issue, the Zepf Center and area county organizations are supporting National Runaway Prevention month. They are asking buildings in our community to light up green today to shine a light on the growing number of runaway teens.

RELATED: TPD: Missing 12 and 15-year-old have been found safe

Officials with the Zepf Center said nearly 4.2 million young people experience some kind of homelessness each year, which can lead to other problems like a lack of education and a higher risk of becoming a victim of sexual violence or human trafficking.

The pandemic has only escalated many of these problems, particularly when it comes to drug use.

"I think at the Zepf Center one of the things that we have noticed is an increase in requests for people to come in to get treatment, but we also continue to see an increase in overdose deaths," Flores said. "So it’s really impacted the work that our staff does."

The Zepf Center has a 24 hour crisis hotline you can call or text if you or someone you know needs help: 419-904-2273 (CARE).