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91 Place creates first trauma-informed coffee shop in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The first trauma-informed coffee shop is coming to Indianapolis by way of 91 Place, a non-profit organization that provides transitional housing for youth and young adults.

 Martise McIntosh, a client of 91 Place, said, “I was [in and out] of homelessness since 2017. In other places it’s usually like, we’re kind of like disposable … I feel like we’re more valued here.”

McIntosh is a part of the 91 Place Workforce Development program. The program is taking ownership of Neidhammer Coffee Co., where young adults like McIntosh will be working alongside a staff that is “trauma-informed.”

“They run into a lot of barriers and challenges with traditional employment anywhere else, even somewhere as simple as McDonald’s. Just showing up late for work or just not showing up to work period, there’s always a reason or why,” said Hascall Shaffer, director of the workplace development program.

Shaffer says the coffee shop staff will be trained to handle things like PTSD, anxiety, and stress — all common struggles with kids who have known a lifetime of going home from home. Shaffer says job stability is often the biggest barrier to kids getting off the street.

“When you’re moving around a lot. It’s hard to continue to do a job [or] keep a job. I get to work around people that like will accept me for just being me,” said Cashree Wilson, who will also be working at the Coffee Co.

According to data from Outreach Indy, an estimated 7,800 youth and young adults in Indianapolis will experience homelessness this year.

“When I’m going into a workspace [with] people that actually care about me and love me, I can be comfortable when I’m working in that space,” said Eba’Nesha Bowles, a client of 91 Place.

91 Place says they will take ownership of the coffee shop starting April 1. They will close the shop for a few days for the transition and then open again on April 5 as a trauma-informed workforce development hub.