By Mary Bubala

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s the first of its kind in Maryland — an apartment complex for homeless young people.

Mary Bubala reports the official grand opening was held Wednesday and it marks more than shelter; it’s a new way forward.

State and city officials gathered inside a former elementary school. It’s now called “Restoration Gardens.”

It’s a 33,000 square foot facility in Park Heights for homeless and at risk young people.

Luther Thompson, 22, just moved in after becoming homeless at age 18 when foster care in Indiana ended. He moved to Maryland and was going from friend to friend and relative to relative, but now has a place to call his own.

“It’s a blessing for me because my family lineage shows nothing but struggle, but now I don’t have to do that anymore,” said Thompson.

Restoration Gardens has 43 efficiency units. It’s permanent housing for young people ages 18 to 24.

“I think it’s a blessing to be able to help people, those who are in need. It’s a wonderful building to live in, it’s a great apartment, the community is very welcoming. Friendly people who live here are very loving and caring,” said Tabesa Brinkley, Resident Assistant.

Supportive services are also offered to tenants, including life skill and financial counseling.

Those who are given a chance are giving back.

“My leadership role is to reach back to those still going through homelessness and pull them up and pull them out and show them that there is hope,” said Thompson.

Nonprofit developers — Empire Homes of Maryland and Homes for America — took an idea and made it a reality.  City and state funding was also used.

For more information on the project, click here.

Comments (89)
  1. Mary Jane says:

    Sheriff I must say you are a racist PIG. Maybe you should take the time and go over to this shelter for young adults you might see some WHITE ones there. You are really full of yourself be careful how and who you label people they may have to help you one day.

  2. MC says:

    Oh great…more section 8 type housing…lets make something nice for people who don’t work or give a damn and let them run it into the ground. Who’s paying for this? Oh right, the wealthy who do work hard and do give a damn. Same old same old with liberal MD.

    1. Hopeful says:

      All the residents if this facility are working or in school. They also pay rent. Maybe you should ask questions before making incorrect statements.

      1. sheriff says:

        Yeah sure & they get their $$$ from a cracker jack box.

    2. L.Thompson says:

      I’m Luther Thompson, the young man in this clip. I feel sorry that you feel that way. I’m sorry that you feel like young people don’t deserve a head start or to be afford the opportunity to a stable home(something I’ve never really been exposed to). Because of this “run-down, waste of a section 8 type housing project”, I am an ACTIVE board member of the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative-Youth Leader’s Coalition, I work with the Public Justice Center and assist their efforts in advocacy and peer-to-peer mentoring. There are those who make mistakes and there are those you make a difference. I’m grateful that someone cared enough to lift me up and push me out of the nest; because, instinctively, i began to sore. I’m flying higher than I had ever imagined being possible. Best of all, i’m reaching back to those who are still going through what I’ve been through. There’s therapy behind that. If I were you sir, I would be very careful of the comments I make..You may be wealthy, but right now, you’re sounding a tad-bit ignorant.

    3. Maryland Mom says:

      You are a trip MC. You must dont know how it feels to struggle and the way your talking, you wouldnt even know how to survive if you had to struggle. You dont know the sad look on a young teen mothers face who has been forced out on the streets with her young children and have no place to go. I know because I see it everyday. The way I feel about it is that if you dont know or understand the struggle then dont speak on it because right now you are being ignorant to something you dont understand.

  3. Lulu says:

    Sherriff should visit Park Heights and see that it is integrated. I think the only color that does not live there is his color. A PINK racist pig. You will be the first one.

  4. State Employee says:

    sherriff you must have not been on Martin Luther King Blvd, all you see is your kind doing is begging. So lets stop the racist thing.

  5. jewel says:

    i think that MC has the right idea… it is state run, which in itself is a disaster, and we will be the ones paying for it, on top of our own bills, all for those who will possibly take advantage of every opportunity. i am just glad that there is an “age out” rule, but who knows they may sue as the rest of the world saying they are being discriminated against due to age… WELL JOIN THE CLUB! BLAH BLAH BLAH….

    1. Hopeful says:

      This is not a state run facility. The state contributed to the’s run by a private nonprofit. Please get informed prior to making sweeping, inaccurate and uninformed statements.

      1. Annoyed says:

        Hopeful unfortunately people run their mouths without opening their eyes or ears!
        No one is saying they are discriminated against, “jewel” (though I doubt you are), it is for AT RISK young adults, people who are not safe in their current surroudings. God forbid you ever be in a situation like they have been put in. And what does it matter if it was a state run facility? They’re not raising your taxes for it and they’re not asking you to cut a monthly check so get over it and quit acting like you know where every penny you pay in taxes goes!

    2. Maryland Mom says:

      Jewel really,,, climb back under your rock. LMAO Your being ignorant too!!!

  6. DeWayne Alston says:

    thank you Hopeful… someone with a heart and some sense.

  7. Almatrice Battle says:

    I am so annoyed at the ignorant comments made. Facing these hard economic times everyone is really balancing the budget give the young people a chance. I would rather see them in housing then trying to make a way doing illegal things and we have to pay for them to be in an institution with no future. Thank God for ousing fr them !!!!!

  8. Jimmy Wayne says:

    Baltimore, You rock! Thank you for taking care of these youth! You have my support. Please log onto and Let me know how I can help.

    thank you- Jimmy Wayne

    1. Anita Cizek Moore says:

      Thank you Jimmy for all that you actively do for young adults!!! Keep up the good/positive work with Meet Me Halfway! Come visit us soon in Baltimore!

      Your biggest fan,

    2. konstadina karkani says:

      Jimmy you put the little rock to open our eyes,everyone’s eyes that the foster kids needs our support and our love.That people still care and interest for them.Thank you and you Baltimore.

    3. Connie Lee Cowan says:

      I left a longer comment further down, but I wanted to directly thank you, Jimmy Wayne, for founding Project Meet Me Halfway to give back and help this problem. Readers please visit to learn more about youth homelessness. Thank you for caring.

  9. MMHSupporter says:

    There was a guy who walked half way across America last year to make this possiable and put it in the public view. If we cnt help our neighbors bc of the color of their skin or their age smthings weong with that. Right now a lot of young adults are still livin with their parents bc of the economy. Everybodt deserves a 2nd chance. You never kno one of these youth could turn out to be the next Jimmy Wayne or even possiably the next preisdent. All someone ppl need is sm1 to show them they belive in tham and that u cn change ur stars.

  10. Jennifer Johnston St Onge says:

    Thank you for all you are doing to help our Homeless and at risk teens. I wish more states would follow your lead and do more if even anything at all to help these children that have no where to go, and con not get the help they so much need just to survive in this world. May God Bless all that you are doing in this project to help them get on track and begin to have a better life!

  11. Robin Hall says:

    I hope this project can be used as a model in other cities and states. The idea of offering financial councelling and Life skills to kids who have lost direction or never had the chance for it, is a greatly needed benefit. Despite what others may think this sounds like a “hand up” project instead of a “hand out” one. Kudos, to the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland. People might think this is a waste of tax payer money, but in the long run it benefits everyone financially. Taking money to keep kids off the street and to help them prepare for life is financially cheaper than paying for jail, prison, court costs, pregnancy and welfare. Instead of wasting time spreading negativity and hate perhaps all those who seam to be against this, will take the time ot go see what it is about, and perhaps will volunteer their time and efforts trying to help make a positive impact in this society. Thank you to those who are trying to make a difference!!

  12. Tanya Rodgers says:

    Kids who have been stomped down need a chance at opportunity,too. Will they all succeed? Of course not. Not all of the kids who started out with average American families do either. At least wtih a place like this these young people have a chance to get their feet under them. Kinda hard to find a job or go to school when you don’t have the basics of an address, a phone, clean clothes, and a positive adult mentor of some kind. I think this is a great new asset for the people of Baltimore!

  13. Christine (a Jimmy Wayne fan) says:

    I think this is a fabulous idea. Do any of you know what happens to kids when they age out of the foster care system? It’s a disgrace. Even if they are still in high school once you turn 18 you are out on your own. I don’t know about the rest of you but I know there’s no way I could have fully supported myself at 18 and still finish school. At least this place is offering hope as well as training and education so that eventually these kids will be able to take care of themselves. I dare all of you who’ve made negative comments to try living their lives for just one day. I bet you couldn’t do it. Stop the hating and be glad that these people are safe, off the streets, and making progress toward productive lives. And for all the people commenting about race, I’ve worked with kids in foster care and all the students I had were white.

  14. Ginger says:

    Hope this kind of work spreads all over this country..These kids deserve love, support, respect..and a chance…One of these kids may be the one to become the Dr. who finds a cure for cancer, MD, or Ms!! God Bless this shelter!!!!! These kids are not “trash”..and should NOT be thrown out as if they were!!!! They are strong, smart and survivors..who deserve a chance and our help!!!

  15. MMH supporter says:

    Wow! That’s great…glad to see people are becoming aware. Great job Baltimore!!

  16. pittsburghwendy says:

    Way to go Baltimore. Great job. Now if we can only get a chain of these across America. Youth Housing R Us. These youth are in their situations not by choice. They are our future. We need to help them become happy productive adults.

  17. Pallavi says:

    Wow! This is super cool and I hope something like this can be replicated in other cities. Our young people deserve a fighting chance to ‘make it’ and all the support we can pull together for them! Go Baltimore!!!

  18. Serena Hunt says:

    This is great! Homelessness affects every age group, not just adults. And not every kid has had the benefit of a family member to give them love, guidance and support. These aren’t people trying to live off someone else’s dollar – they’re young people who are trying to learn how to navigate life. If we guide them now, they stand a better chance of succeeding. Wish more communities saw the potential of youth instead of sweeping them under the rug. Log onto and learn more about helping at-risk and homeless youth.

  19. lorendasue says:

    I’m agreeing with the folks who hope this provides a model to be used in other areas. For people who have found themselves at the bottom of our society, the additional services of having training, leadership opportunities, and support are vital. It’s intensive work to shed the layers of “I can’t” and having been told “you’re good for nothing” to reveal individuals with the potential to bring wonderful things to our society. Hope there are some follow-up stories on how this is working.

  20. Di says:

    A wonderful opportunity our youth in need are definitely able to use as they transition in life.
    A true blessing as anyone who’s ever known homelessness will understand.

  21. julieNwyoming says:

    Thank you Empire Homes of Maryland, Homes for America and the City of Baltimore for seeing the potential in homeless youth instead of judging them. If more people would take the time to understand youth homelessness they would see that same potential. Having a place to live and the opportunity for life skills and financial counseling will give these youth the chance they need to improve their situation and succeed. For most homeless teens, that is all they are asking for…just one chance. I invite anyone reading this to learn more about teen homelessness by visiting the Project Meet Me Halfway website at

  22. Doug Skopp says:

    A wonderful idea, a model for other communities–I know my city in upstate New York needs this kind of imagination and determination. With best wishes and congratulations to all of you who made this possible.

  23. Jennifer A. ( says:

    This is an icredible step in the right direction! Most of these youth didn’t ask for the situation they were put in, so thank you Maryland for giving them a chance at a better life!

  24. Dawn White says:

    I support anything that you can do to support the young
    in foster care; I was almost there myself
    Teaching at the local university in California and the junior college, I see many of these youths trying to turn their life around(even though they did not initially create it). I am totally behind the efforts of Jimmy Wayne and MMH. GOD BLESS JIMMY WAYNE AND ALL OF HIS SUPPORT STAFF FOR MMH!!!!

  25. Campfire Sky says:

    BRAVO RESTORATION GARDENS!!! You are making a difference, one kid at a time. Hopefully this example can be blue-printed all across the country. Yes, you can change your stars..

  26. Janine Jones (@TexasGirl4Ever) says:

    It’s nice to see these teens getting the help and support they need. Hopefully other states catch on and are able to do the same for the at risk teens in their state. These kids all deserve to have that feeling of hope, support and love and of someone caring about them enough to offer them a chance at having a better future. This is a wonderful article and I’m glad it was splashed across my twitter page so we can all be aware and help spread the word.

  27. Erin Eddy says:

    We all need various forms of support from our communities at different times. I’m happy to see services for those in need!

  28. Amie Stanley says:

    This so wonderful to see! Glad to see people reaching out to help those in need! I know a special man who walked half way across america to help kids in foster care his name is Jimmy Wayne a country artist. I look up to him and people like you who help others God Bless!!

  29. Carol MMH Street Team Member says:

    My hat’s off to you Baltimore for taking 33,000 sq ft of space and putting it to GREAT use!!! I WISH Phoenix would do the same!!!! These youths are full of potential and could very well participate in curing cancer – but we MUST give them the chances that most of us were lucky to have! These individuals are part of OUR FUTURE!!!!!! Let’s invest in them – just as we do our own children!!!!!!

  30. This is great for our youth! Let’s celebrate that 43 young people won’t have to sleep on the street!

  31. Ann says:

    this is just awesome!!

  32. Eva says:

    It’s so wonderful to see a facility like this. Most of these kids have no place to go when they age out of foster care at the age of 18. They don’t have a family to support to them, or even a place to call home. This shelter will help those kids move towards a more positive future! Thank you Baltimore!!

  33. A project MMH fan says:

    I think this is a fantastic opportunity to help someone in need. People are so quick to judge assume the worst about someone. You have no clue unless you have been there and walked in those shoes. For all of the smug people that are safely tucked into their fine lives now, enjoy it because things can be taken away in the blink of an eye and its a harsh reality! Great job to Jimmy Wayne and pproject MMH for their help and endless hard work. Try it sometime….help others in need, it feels good inside.

  34. Teresa says:

    I think Luther’s words sum this up. This is a “blessing.” I have a feeling that he is going to use this wonderful opportunity to try to make a better life for himself, and my hope is that this facility will give these youth a much better chance of becoming successful people as opposed to the opposite. This is a wonderful idea and I hope it catches on like wildfire in all the other states!

  35. Dawn - MMH Supporter says:

    Kudos to people stepping up and saying “we can” and “we will” help instead of “we should” help. These young adults should get the same opportunity that others receive, they work just as hard (if not harder). This isn’t a “welfare” or “charity” handout. It’s a guidance.

  36. stephanie n says:

    jimmy wayne said it right baltimore u absolutely rock. i wish there could be more place like this all over the united states.these kids/young adults deserve this chance to make something of there lives and follow their dreams.its not their fault they are in this terrible situation and they should be given every oppertunity to get themselves out .most only need a little direction and encouragement.they are our future so lets help them make it a bright one. oh and the last time i checked homeless/aging out teens didnt come in only one color.

  37. JW Fan says:

    I think it’s great for there to be a place to go to for support when there’s no other place to turn to!! Why didn’t someone else think if this before?! Great job done!!

  38. Kim Lawson says:

    thank you for all you are doing for the youths we nee more people like you to help them thanks so much

  39. CynthiaSuzanne says:

    Iam so glad to see somethin finally changin this is GREAT news!! Its time that we took a stand! Thank you Baltimore for being such a great example for how we should treat others especially someone whos already had a diffucult life and rly wants to do better.

  40. BJ Rowe says:

    A shelter for teens in Baltimore is awesome. It shows that regardless whatever opinion some may have about Baltimore, they are stepping up and addressing the needs of these young people.

  41. Brenda Kearney says:

    I want to congratulate Baltimore for setting such a great example for other cities to follow! These foster kids that age out need our help & support to make a productive life for themselves. I know a man that gave up 7 mons out of his life & walked 1700 miles across this country to raise awareness pm this very problem. Meet country singer & songwriter, Jimmy Wayne. Check out www.’s on this very problem-cannot fix mispellings!)

  42. Crystal Jones says:

    Congratulations to all who successfully turned this vision into a reality. Thankfully, they all saw that good will always triumph over evil. Folks, these are HUMAN BEINGS. They are former foster children, through no fault of their own. They probably have been neglected by their birth parents, abused, forgotten. Shuffled from one home to the next. Having a permenent residence is such a blessing. By not having to worry about where they will sleep at night, now these young adults can concentrate on building their lives, cultivating life skills, while at the same time learning the life skills that most have never been exposed to. Homelessness comes in all colors. So should help. If all the hatred and viciousness were turned into love and caring, look how much we can accomplish. Please get familiar wirh Jimmy Wayne, country music artist and former foster child at Get involved in Project Meet Me Halfway. Read Jimmy’s story, our mission. Join our Street Teams! We are a funny bunch of people that would love to see many, many more of these homes. in every state. These ‘kids’ need this chance. You can be the change! Welcome aboard!
    @CrystalSaysSo via twitter
    Crystal Jones MMH Street Team Member

  43. Kellie Critser says:

    Way to go Baltimore!!! Thanks for supporting our youth and being an example for others! #MMH!

  44. Jenny says:

    That is great news… I’m happy to see that people are making this problem and doing something to give these kids a place to stay… Jimmy and everyone at MMH has been an amazing on making this problem with foster care and aging out become aware to many many people… Great job everyone.. these kids deserve a chance… I had the oportunity to help a kid who was homeless, started out by buying him a hot cup of coffee and a cinamon roll, and ended up with a part time job where I worked, makes you feel good knowing that you helped someone who is less fortunate .. kids don’t deserve to have to go through this..

  45. Barbara Brown-Hill says:

    This is an extremely positive & forward-thinking solution to the very real problem of homelessness amongst young adults in our country. A safe environment, financial counseling & life skills are provided to help these young adults have the tools to flourish in society. Bravo Baltimore!!!

  46. Betty Jo says:

    Betty Jo

    What a beautiful gift You’s have given these young people..a chance at life…somewhere to call home, somewhere safe to sleep at night, somewhere warm and shelter from the storms, and possibly some faith in the human race. You’s have given them the chance at life…possibly now a sence of security…
    Thank you for caring for about what happens to these young people. They are our future, we must treat them right……

  47. mintymichelle says:

    Great to see an organization helping these kids. please visit This site also helps youth.

  48. Sharon Lucasi says:

    Congratulations to Empire Homes of Maryland, Homes for America & the City of Baltimore for changing that empty school into a Home for the Homeless & Aging out Foster Youth! These are much needed Facilities in every City & State! Thank you for helping them and educating the Foster Youth & teaching them Living Skills! Being a Suporter of Jimmy Wayne & http:// I have learned a wealth of information from Jimmy himself that was a Homeless Teen! Thank You!

  49. ellaine says:

    thank you for sharing what a wonderful start maybe some more state will follow THANK YOU all who support OUR YOUTH OUR FUTURE = ) blessed be

  50. Honky says:

    Not In My Backyard.

    I’d never support a tax payer funded crack den in my neighborhood. I’m sure all of these kids “be turnin’ day life around”.

  51. Teri MMH says:

    I applaud you Baltimore for your innovative work. Turning empty schools into efficiency apartments for teens aged out of foster care all around the country should be of great importance in a nation under God.

  52. Lori says:

    Way to go!!! This is what every kid needs, a chance. It does not end just cause they turn 18. This is not their fault they are in the position they are in. They need every chance in the world as other kids do. They do not get the opportunity to pick their parents, they just want to be loved and think they are special (which they all are). We need more people to step up and basically do the right thing. Thank you to Jimmy Wayne and for raisng the much needed awareness of this crisis. We always have money to help other countries, now if we could just poor the same kind of support into ours. They are not asking for a free ride, they are asking for a chance.

  53. Lorenzo Epps says:

    I am so proud of you marylanders for this!

  54. Marianne says:

    Way to go Baltimore, I hope other cities follow and help these homeless youth! Please visit!

  55. gagrl project mmh member says:

    I think that this is wonderful for the teenagers to have a place to call home & help get them back on their feet!!! You would not be so quick to judge if you were also in their shoes…. I’m sure that it is not easy growing up from foster home to foster home wanting a family & place to call home. I’m happy that Maryland stepped up & built this place for the young adults!!! I’m also glad that they have services that help teach the young adults about life & how to get out their on their own one day!!! I’m sure most of these young adults would be like Mr. Thompson & give back to the people that & place that helped him to move forward in life!!! That’s the kind of person & people that I would like to know!!! I’m sure that they have dreams & goals just like the rest of us!!! They just need people & places like Restoration Gardens to believe in them & give them a chance to change their lives & situations!!! Check out!!! gagrl



  57. gina says:

    Thank you to who ever thought to do this.. Using an old/unused school is a great idea.. More cities should do this .. it would be so great for kids/young adults to have a safe place to call home. it would also allow them to finish their education and become responsible adults .. My hats off to you !!

  58. Annette says:

    What great news! I hope more cities do the same! This will have a positive impact on so many!

  59. williejoe says:

    Just as sure as there’s poop in a goose, there will be fraud associated with this down the road. Somebody is getting very rich over this & any of these drug rehab type homes that are supposedly run for non profit. Money in the form of grants is coming their way, believe me. Later when the staff is found abusing the girls all of you same white knights will be crying & bemoaning the fact that the staff didn’t have a thorough background check or that the real reason used a straw boss to run the program because they have a criminal record. As much as I dislike government in everything, there are times when personal safety is to important to ignore.

  60. williejoe says:

    Oh, & all of you wonderful people out there in favor of funding this house most likely haven’t even paid taxes yet in your young lives & are still living at home sucking on the parents TIT. Wait until you’ve been out in the world for at least ten years with a family & responsibilities & come see me then a….holes.

    1. Make a difference says:

      I have paid taxes for years….taxes that went to pay court costs for people cited for “loitering” because they tried to find a place to sleep out of the rain. I have paid taxes that have paid for the birth of children, born to children. I have paid taxes that have gone to court costs, when young men and woman have stolen food to feed them selves….I have paid taxes for years…..and will continue to do so, but now i can at least be happy to know those taxes are being used to try and make a difference. Not all homeless teens are drug addicts and criminals….I have had many come and go through the years, like other youths in the years of transitioning from child to adult, they all want the same thing….to be treated as human beings and to be given a chance.

  61. icarenot says:

    sherriff/williejoe Sheriffwillie is a racist. And you should be happy willie….you will finally have a place to call home.

    1. williejoe says:

      Icarenot, Nah, not me, I’ll be sleeping over at your momma’s house after she fixes me dinner & gives me head.

  62. Connie Lee says:

    As a fan of Country singer/songwriter Jimmy Wayne who was once a homeless teen himself; a follower of his recent Project Meet Me Halfway 2010 1,700 mile 7 month solo Walk halfway across America to spread the word about the relatively unknown problem of youth homelessness; and a supporter of his Project Meet Me Halfway to help and give back..I have had the benefit of being educated by him about the national tragedy of teen/young adult homelessness in our country. The numbers are shocking and heartbreaking! A “garden” is a place where good things grow and most of these homeless young people have not come from good places. Most of them were given up or abandoned by their families, then shunted from pillar to post in the Foster care system, and far too many have endured mistreatment and abuse, all through no fault of their own. This sheltering restoring garden will hopefully give them a chance to recover, to get on their feet and ultimately hopefully become self-sufficient..a result that will benefit all of society, all of us! The state of Maryland, the city of Baltimore, Empire Homes of Maryland and Homes for America are thinking ahead in a socially conscious and even spiritually enlightened way by realizing that helping our desperate young people who need some support to make it, is not only the morally right thing to do, but ends up being a good idea for everyone by helping to prevent future problems such as crime, incarceration, etc. further down the road. “Restoration Gardens” is an excellent name for a facility such as this because by providing homeless young people with a place to rest their weary heads, a place to feel safe and come home to, it “restores” their hopes and dreams for a better future. Please visit to learn more about youth homelessness. Thank you.

  63. Jenifer-MMH Supporter says:

    I am happy to see something like this come to be. When you invest in young people like this, you invest not only in their good, but the good of society, because they will be in a position to someday invest in others. Jimmy Wayne, of whom I am a fan, is a perfect example of this. I hope to see more like this!

  64. Jennifer Osborne says:

    This is an awesome idea. The last place our teens need to be is on the streets.

  65. sheriff says:

    Just wait. it will be like the inmates running the asylum!

  66. Pooh says:

    Sheriff, I now see why people who you called friends kicked you in the balls, lied and decieved you. You deserved it. Congratulations….here is another kick for you. Just doing my part.

    I think this is a wonderful idea and hope for nothing but success for this program.

    1. sheriff willie says:

      Pooh, Is your last name Stains or S……T? cause you sure do smell.

  67. Dripable Service says:

    Could be this blog’s greatest blog post I have ever seen…

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