Photos of Young People


The Ruth Ellis Center, incorporated in 1999, is a youth social services agency that serves the needs of runaway, homeless and at-risk youth.  We are one of the nation’s leading experts on vulnerable youth who are experiencing residential instability.  The mission of the Center is to “provide short and long-term residential safe space and support services for runaway, homeless, and at-risk lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender, and questioning youth.”  The REC is the only organization in the country that has a Residential program for LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice system, and is mission specific to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.  While the Center emphasizes serving LGBTQ youth who are often ostracized, shamed, and denied services by other agencies, no youth, regardless of gender identity and/or sexual orientation is turned away or denied services.  Furthermore, all youth who seek our assistance receive the highest level of services based on trauma informed care, late adolescent development theory, and best practices for serving homeless youth.

The Ruth Ellis Center operates three programs:

  • Ruth’s House – our residential housing program for youth ages 12-17 who are in the foster care or juvenile justice system.
  • Second Stories Drop-In Center providing basic services and safe space for youth and young adults ages 14 to 24.
  • Second Stories Outpatient Mental Health Services

The administrative offices and Drop-in Center are located at 77 Victor St. in Highland Park. The Center, founded in 1999, is a 501 ( c ) 3 nonprofit organization and receives funding from individuals, foundations, corporations, community groups, faith-based organizations and the government.



About Ruth Ellis (1899-2000)

  • Ruth Ellis lived in Detroit from 1938 until her death in 2000. She opened her home to the community on the weekends as a safe space from the 1940s through the 1960s, a time when African-American gay men and lesbians had few social venues.
  • Ruth also personally assisted young people with money for college, books, and food. She unselfishly gave everything that she had to whomever needed it.
  • In the 1970s, Ruth moved into senior housing. Through a chance meeting in a self-defense class, Ruth made a connection to a group of younger women who embraced Ruth’s courage and pioneering efforts in living a happy life amidst great adversities.

For further reading

Contact information

Administrative Offices: 313.252.1950
Second Stories 313.867.6936
Fax: 313.865.3372