Youngstown priest works to improve young adults’ living situations

Father Brienz is opening up a housing program for young adults on Glenwood Avenue in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The goal of Café Augustine is Youngstown is to improve the lives of young adults who are looking for a second chance. Father Edward Brienz opened the café almost a year ago, but now, he is working on a new venture to give people ages 18 to 24 a chance at living independently.

Maurice Barnes has been working at Café Augustine for three months. He makes the dough for the pies and donuts.

Barnes said he never believed that he could change his life, but Café Augustine changed his outlook.

Life wasn’t always easy for Barnes. His father was never in the picture, and he has always been on his own.

Barnes said Father Brienz has become like a father to him.

“I’m trying to work with him with whatever we need here, and he’s trying to work with me with whatever I need on the outside of here,” he said.

The cafe is at the center of a program that teaches teens and young adults life skills through work at the shop.

Father Brienz, director of the Youngstown Diocese Office of Missions, said through his cafe, he noticed that many of his employees are trying to create a better future for themselves. He often hears about people, like Barnes, who don’t have stable homes, which he said can impact their ability to be a good employee.

“We’re finding that we give him the best environment that we can, and they enjoy being here, but when they go home, some of them don’t have a good place to go,” Father Brienz said.

To give those young adults a better home, Father Brienz is opening up a housing program on Glenwood Avenue in Youngstown. It will house seven people for about six to nine months.

“They’ll have their own room. They’ll have their own area. It will be lockable. They’ll share a kitchen,” he said.

Tenants will have to pass a drug test, and rent will be $225 a month. Tenants also have to be banking money, showing evidence that they’re saving at least $100 a month. Father Brienz said the goal is to make sure they can be independent.

“Then, they’ll have whatever they need for a down payment and a deposit on an apartment, and they’ll know they can be a confident tenant,” he said.

The homes should be move-in ready by January 1.

So far, there are four people waiting to join the program. There is room for about three more.

Those interested in applying for housing can do so inside the Newport Library, located at 3730 Market St. in Youngstown.