I have 16-year-old students in my community and school facing homelessness. Youth become adults at age 18 in New York. In two years the very laws and policies that are decided this legislative term will directly affect me. Your Presidency also affects me. It would be a wonderful opportunity to actually be a part of serious conversations with people that can really make differences to change or improve laws. Sharing ideas about what I’ve noticed, what I would change, and what works best for our communities.
On August 12th my 17th birthday, I accepted an invitation by the New York's Mayor's office of DYCD; to be a Youth Delegate at UN International Youth Day. As a partner for the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030, I can give a unique view and understanding of Human Rights and National Security of homeless youth. We both share calling New York our home. The fact that *51% of the homeless in shelters are of families with children that are African American and New York is 2nd with the largest increase of Individuals homelessness is wrong. Our laws make poor people (even our youth) the criminals. “You are violating a law against sleeping in public. If you cover yourself with a blanket you are violating a prohibition on “camping.” If you ask a fellow human being for help you are violating a law against “panhandling.” You get arrested. Now you have a police record. You try getting a job, renting an apartment, applying for public benefits. It is even harder than it already was.” National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, founder Maria Foscarinis also a New Yorker. This is happening on the very streets where we call home. During your term, let’s actually have something positive done by problem-solving, being involved and identifying solutions with my direct knowledge of my own community’s experience with homeless youth, it is not only an interest but a pledge to have action with our voices.
Although I have had the privilege of great influences of family and educational mentors always available to me, most youth do not. We have a large class of Americans (especially of color), that are not given opportunities that will prepare them to compete, create and gain wealth in all of the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) job markets. Mostly because of our lack of community mentors, industry knowledge, and many cultural stereotypes. During your term as our president, can be a time for us as youth to equip ourselves with the know-how and capabilities that will let us hit the ground running to support you during the next election year. We will be adults living in a complex rapidly, evolving world in politics, academics and careers. My hope is that my letter to you start a relationship. We will be one step closer in bridging the gap of racial disparity in education, employment and healthcare.
I know this type of outlook is much more easily avoided than confronted in a welcome letter to the White House. But not for my President. I believe your office during these next 4 years is not just hearing something about the people you serve but learning about the people who will eventually serve you. I witnessed an, amazing group of adults during my time as an Youth Delegate for the UN, devising solutions to what would become one of the greatest challenges during my life. “Criminalizing homelessness does nothing to end it, and it makes it harder for people to escape it.”, Maria Foscarini. I understand first hand, how your Presidency will shape our world and equally how I will be shaped by it.
Sincerely Avery Victoria Miller
P.S. This is some sources of great readings from where I Quoted information:
* According to The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress 2015
* Why We Must Address Racial Inequity in our Efforts to End Homelessness Amanda Andere, CEO of Funders Together to End Homelessness https://www.usich.gov/news/i-believe-in-human-rights-homelessness-is-criminalpeople-experiencing-homel10/13/2016