Youth homelessness is it making kids stronger or is it neglect?
Youth homelessness is a big issue in our nation, but do you know just how big of a problem it is?
Dear future president,
Youth homelessness is a very big issue, many young adults and foster children do not get a fair chance when it comes to finding a place to call home. Many young adults are moving away from their parents because their home life is not great and they need to get out of that situation. But a new situation occurs and that is homelessness. Many young adults are not prepared for the cost of living on their own or having their application pushed to the side because of their age. Around 22,000 foster children on a yearly average never get the chance to call a place home before they age out of foster care and are kicked to the curb. Youth homelessness is a very big issue and a living nightmare that haunts many young adults.
“I didn’t mind sleeping on the floor. I didn’t mind sleeping on the couch,” said twenty-three year old Alkeisha Porter (Saeturn). Alkeisha moved out when she was just sixteen, because she did not like her mother’s husband and her dad had a drug problem. “I was basically house hopping from friends to family members. Hey, it was comfortable to me. It wasn’t cold. I wasn’t outside,” Alkeisha said (Saeturn). Unfortunately not all homeless youths are as lucky as Alkeisha and do not have any friends or family members to turn to and have to sleep on the cold hard streets.
Many youths have hard times finding a place to live because their application is pushed off to the side because of their age or because they are a student. “For young adults, the problem isn’t applying; It’s getting in. Their demographic is considered a lower priority” (Saeturn). Whether you are a part time or full time student the chances of getting your application are the same, slim to none. Why does getting an education automatically put you at an unfair advantage and have your application thrown in the trash? Mercy which is a non profit organization that provides affordable housing and alternatives for eighteen to twenty-four year olds. Mercy has been trying to make a change in youth homelessness and has been doing a great job, but not just one organization should have the weight of trying to solve a national issue all by themselves.
“Last year, 415,129 children entered foster care, a number that has increased 4.5 percent from 2012.” (Ryan). Many foster children never get the chance to call a house a home because they are being transferred from house to house before they age out of foster care and then have nowhere to go. “But 22,392 kids graduated from foster care in 2014 without a place to call home, or people to live with”(Ryan). Foster children already have it hard enough by losing six months of their precious youth and growing period while moving in with a new family, they should not also have to live with the fear of where they are going to live or being out on the street the second they turn eighteen. “My caseworker picked me up, gave me my clothes and my CPS file, and dropped me off at a shelter downtown. She just left me there,” an eighteen year old named Tevin told Children’s Rights (CR Staff). There are many kids just like Tevin who endure many things throughout foster care such as moving from home to home, being separated from brothers and or sisters, and many medications. Once the nightmare of foster care is done for these children they then have to live in the real world nightmare with no one there for them and nowhere to go. These kids are just tossed to the street the second they turn eighteen with no knowledge of what to do next, many of them when asked before their eighteenth birthday “what are you going to do tomorrow?” reply with “I don’t know”. They do not know how to support themselves because while moving from house to house they lost time for their education. “Only 30.7% of children who grow up in foster care graduate from high school. Only 2.5% graduate from a four-year college.”(Hall). Because of a lack of education or a high school diploma many foster kids have hard times finding jobs “Almost 47% of kids who grew up in foster care are unemployed.” (Hall). With unemployment comes no money to support themselves or to get an apartment, “As many as 31% of former foster youth spend time homeless or couch-surfing.”(Hall).
Youth homelessness is a very big issue that we as a nation need to solve. First, we need to make more organizations like Mercy to provide homes for young adults. Then, we need to give these kids jobs so they can pay for themselves. Last but by no means least, young adults need to be a priority and not just shoved off to the side. Thank you for your time.
"Former Foster Kids Struggle With Homelessness - Children's Rights." Childrens Rights. CR Staff, 28 Sept. 2014. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.
Saeturn, By Kasey. "Young Adults Seeking Public Housing? Good Luck." Youth Radio. Morning Edition, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.
Chapin Hall at University of Chicago, Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at Age 26 (2011)