“According to estimates by the Urban Institute, nearly 1 in 5 youth under the age of 18 will run away at least once.” Last year, two million teenagers experienced homelessness. These two million teenagers slept on the street, in dumpsters, under bridges and in cardboard boxes. The more aware we are as Americans about our homeless youth problem, the more support for youth safe havens will be created. If we are not made aware of this major crisis, we as a country will find out the negative effects sooner or later.
Some of these two million teenagers slept in extreme heat or extreme cold, and none of them slept well. Besides finding a place to sleep and food to eat, they needed to worried about being assaulted, kidnapped and even forced into prostitution by human trafficking. In my sixteen years, I have never been homeless and I am sure your children haven’t either. My nightly worries include getting my homework done, and texting my friends about weekend plans. In American, we have no excuse to have homeless teens. Knowing this, there has to be a solution. Even though I am not quite 18, I believe this issue is significant and and we as a country need to address it now. There are many reasons why I believe this issue is very important, but the main one is every American deserves a fair shot at life and no teen is getting that if they are homeless. New York City is the headquarters of UNICEF; the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and they believe “All children have a right to survive, thrive, and fulfill their potential-to the benefit of a better world.” The United States ranks ninth in the world for household income, $54,630 per person and yet we have two million American teens who do not have safe shelter at night.
I believe one major solution is to make America more aware of our homeless youth problem and secondly, we need to look at creating multiple safe houses for teens in every city or county that has a public high school. Being a homeless teen is a lot tougher then we realize, but until we have been homeless at some point in our lives, there is no way we can even relate. As a sixteen year old, the thought of myself, my brother or any of my friends experiencing homelessness makes me want to cry. Being aware of this crisis is helpful however, taking action is the only way we as Americans are going solve this challenge. Two million American teens are depending on you as our acting president. Right now in the United States there are many organizations helping out homeless teens but not enough in my opinion. One successful organization is called Avenues for Homeless youth in my state of Minnesota. On their website, they present multiple kids sharing their stories and demonstrate how Avenues has impacted their lives dramatically. The founder of Avenues was homeless as a teen and in 1994 she helped found Avenues. They started with ten beds and now have three separate programs including helping GLBT youth. Out of the two million homeless youth, Minnesota predicts we have around 4, 000 homeless teens each night. This great organization can help less than 100 of them on a daily basis.
When teens have no place to sleep or call home, they run into five other major problems. As a country, we see increase in mental health issues, increased substance use, increase in crime and violence, increase in school absenteeism and finally increase in prostitution. None of these problems stay within the homelessness population, these problems affect every American in a variety of ways. “Homeless youth have a 25% increase in mental health issues” due often to increased production of cortisol, a stress hormone which alters young brains. Homeless youth are under extreme stress. Extreme stress leads to substance abuse. Needing substances leads to crime and violence.
Needing a roof over one’s head leads to unsafe decisions plus there are many people who take advantage of homeless teens. All of these factors have such dramatic effects on the homeless teens, as well as the people around them. Which means homelessness affects everyone of us.
Helping put an end to teen homeless is good for our country. As the President of the United States, I know you care about our country. As my president, I feel you are responsible for helping all Americans, especially Americans in need. As Lady Bird Johnson, Former First Lady of the United States said, “Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” Homeless teens has affected the world in multiple ways. Please work with my Congressman Erik Paulsen to development a funding source to help fund programs in Minnesota to help end teen homelessness.
As Americans, we need to put an end to homeless youth. We, as Americans, need to make people more aware of this problem and find solutions to help all homeless teens. The President of the United States has the ability to influence the congress and dedicate more money to our homeless teen challenge. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter and consider everything that homeless teens are facing in America today.
First quote-“According to estimates by the Urban Institute, nearly 1 in 5 youth under the age of 18 will run away at least once.
Second the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and they believe “All children have a right to survive, thrive, and fulfill their potential-to the benefit of a better world.” http://www.unicef.org/crc/
Fourth quote-As Lady Bird Johnson, Former First Lady of the United States said, “Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them