Sound like YOUR teen high school years? How about Pagliuca’s High School yrs – or Deval Patrick’s?
This kid’s goal is to keep his grades up, and pass the MCAS, but he says:
It was hard keeping my grades up when I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or when I was going to eat,” he said. “You could be Einstein in the streets, but without a little help there’s only so much you can do.”
Once a poor kid hits 18, there is almost nothing. If they do not have parents or family who provide them with housing, they either must make it on their own, or mostly, they become homeless. There is almost nothing available for them in Massachusetts, and even less in many other states. Did YOU rent your first apartment at age 18?
The real number of homeless kids far exceeds what’s been counted,” said Robyn Frost, executive director of the state’s hmeless coalition. “teens tend to do whatever it takes to remain hidden out of embarrassment or a fear of getting pulled into the DCF (Department of Children and Family Services) system.
There are few resources available to help homeless teens. Teens are the fastest growing segment of the homeless.
There are hundreds of homeless adolescents in Greater Lowell. And three people whose job is finding them.
Sometimes they are on the street because a parent remarries, and the family just doesn’t blend – and they are kicked out to manage on their own. Our family has taken in several kids who were in that position that we knew over the years, and provided housing and a haven until they could make it on their own. I wish some of the folks getting millions of dollars in bailout money did the same!
Sometimes they are kicked out just because they are the oldest kid and there are too many mouths to feed at home. My own father had to leave school in 1926 and go to work to help his widowed mother support his six siblings; so maybe this is not new.
Advocates say those ages 18 to 23 are probably the hardest to assist.
As soon as someone turns 18, suddenly there is no more eligibility for most programs and supports. For example:
Edwyn, now 19, has held a job and gone to school without a real address. Until age 18, he was in the care of DCF (formerly DSS). Once he turned 19, state help ended.”No one at work knew I was homeless,: Edwyn said. “It’s not something you want people to know.”
And don’t just say, “Why don’t they just go to a shelter?”
The reality is that there are very few shelters fror adolescents from 16 to 21,” she said. “this is a forgotten population with no resources to serve it. When I get calls, it’s really heart-wrenching to say that one someone’s sitting there trying to find a warm bed to sleep in.”
Investing in our future should mean investing in our youth.
Whether what is needed is a program for empty nesters to rent unused bedrooms, with some supports in place, or government run transitional rooming houses, this situation is an emergency.
We must do better than to throw the wards of the state mostly onto the street when they turn 18. Granted, those who “make it” may well be strong survivors, but what about all the casualties, and those who turn to crime or pay for shelter with sex to survivie?