A shelter for homeless teens in Medford is one giant step closer to reality after the City Council voted unanimously today to release more than $200,000 in promised community block grant money to the organization, Hearts with a Mission.

A shelter for homeless teens in Medford is one giant step closer to reality after the City Council voted unanimously today to release more than $200,000 in promised community block grant money to the organization, Hearts with a Mission.

Kevin Lamson, founder and president of Hearts with a Mission, has said the proposed shelter will provide males and females, ages 10 to 17, with a secure environment for 72 hours and link them with other service agencies.

Lamson's organization will use the federal funds to purchase the property to develop the teen shelter to garner support and prove it will work, he said. Once licensed as a residential care facility, the shelter would be eligible to receive funding through contracts with Jackson County, Lamson said.

"This is a real answer to a prayer — to a lot of prayers," said Lamson.

The council voted unanimously to give $202,800 in federal funds to Hearts with a Mission to help purchase and renovate a house on Edwards Street, transforming it into an emergency shelter for homeless teens.

Concerns about the nonprofit group's fledgling status and questions regarding its business plan delayed the release of community block grant funds. Councilman Bob Strosser voted in may to give the money to the shelter in May, saying it was clear "that it was the will of the council" to fund the shelter. But Strosser consistently voiced concerns over giving such a large amount of money to "an unproven entity" at such an early stage in its development.

Strosser and other council members said in September they would prefer the new nonprofit had its business plan worked out in detail. Strosser is out of town and did not attend today's meeting.

At a workshop earlier this month, the council reviewed the organization's business plan and clarified its understanding of the contract which states the property slated to become the shelter is held as collateral for the grant should Hearts with a Mission fail.

— Sanne Specht