Chicago Teens Face Homelessness, Remain Hopeful

This essay was created by teen reporters from The Mash

By Kasey Carlson, Whitney Young

Last year, Chicago Public Schools reported portion 22,144 homeless students. More than 2,000 of those students were unparalleled girl vital though a primogenitor or guardian.

It’s not usually a internal problem. According to a National Alliance to End Homelessness, about 50,000 immature people in a U.S. nap on a travel for 6 months or more.

“They are not unequivocally seen as homeless when they’re underneath 17,” pronounced Mary Coy, arch growth officer of Teen Living Programs (TLP), about girl experiencing homelessness. “There’s a idea of an ‘unaccompanied immature person.’ Oftentimes, they are looked during as being connected to a primogenitor or guardian, even yet in many cases they are not—they are on their own.”

TLP is a nonprofit classification that works with immature people—primarily between a ages of 14 and 21—who are experiencing homelessness. Their efforts are focused on Chicago’s South Side.

“We cruise girl are singular in a fact that a lot of them come into homelessness since of resources like family slight and poverty, or maybe they were homeless as partial of their family,” Coy said. “Maybe they’ve been victims of substance-abusing relatives or physically or intimately violent relatives or adults.”

TLP is usually one of many organizations in a area that assistance struggling teenagers and families. CPS also provides assistance to homeless students with evident propagandize enrollment, travel to and from school, after-school education and waived tyro fees. Emergency shelters such as The Night Ministry’s The Crib yield a protected place to stay overnight.

However, a resources accessible in Chicago are outnumbered by those who need them. According to The Night Ministry, there are fewer than 300 preserve beds for girl in Chicago, though as many as 2,000 immature people knowledge homelessness any night.

TLP reported a waitlist for housing accessible to teens. The Crib can usually accept 20 immature people per night. If some-more than 20 people arrive, a lottery is hold to establish who will stay. The shelter’s overdo group is there to assistance anyone not certified find another place to stay.


Many teenagers experiencing homelessness aren’t usually looking for shelter, though a place to feel accepted. The Youth Empowerment Performance Project (YEPP) is a module that provides lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender girl who are homeless or in inconstant vital situations with an event to demonstrate themselves by a behaving humanities in a protected environment.

According to a National Alliance to End Homelessness, an estimated 110,000 LGBT girl knowledge homelessness any year.

Ahniyha Johnson and Kupid Moore, who are both in their early 20s, are usually dual of YEPP’s garb members who reported inconstant vital situations.

“I theory we could contend that I’m not homeless, though that we don’t have a home … I’m a couch-surfer,” pronounced Moore, who assimilated YEPP after saying one of their performances. “I indispensable to find people who were fluent like we was expressive—in an artistic way.”

Johnson pronounced her vital conditions is a bit different, though that she also found out about YEPP by one of their performances.

“I live with my mother, though we won’t feel fast until we have my possess (place) and my name is a solitary leaseholder and I’m profitable all a bills and I’m being that adult that we know we am,” Johnson explained. “I still cruise my housing unstable.”

Although both Johnson and Moore pronounced YEPP has helped them make friends, demonstrate themselves and feel safe, many homeless teenagers bargain with a contrition and oppressive stereotypes that come with their vital situations.


The filmmakers behind “The Homestretch,” a documentary about 3 homeless teenagers in Chicago, are perplexing to assistance audiences rethink those stereotypes. The film, that will atmosphere on PBS Apr 13, follows a internal teens’ journeys by high school.

“There is a pervasive disastrous classify opposite girl homelessness,” pronounced Anne de Mare, co-director of “The Homestretch.”

According to de Mare, a media typically portrays dual distinguished stereotypes of girl homelessness. One is a strung-out exile who’s during error for his or her hapless situation. The other is a “homeless to Harvard” story about someone who’s struggled by formidable times though receives a full float to college and becomes extravagantly successful.

“Both of those stereotypes are unequivocally dangerous since one accuses a immature chairman for their possess situation,” de Mare said. “You have to remember these are children. For a many part, these are immature people who are between a ages of 12 and 21.

“The other one says, ‘Well, if this chairman can succeed, afterwards because can’t everyone?’ It places this expectancy on a girl that they should be means to get themselves out of a situation.”

Johnson and Moore pronounced they have no goal of vouchsafing their vital situations foreordain their futures.

“I see myself going wherever my heart tells me, usually being in a place where I’m giveaway … usually somewhere where we am authorised to demonstrate myself,” Moore said. “I usually see myself being expressive, genuine and creation income off doing that.”

Johnson pronounced she hopes to get concerned with a kind of work that has influenced her possess life.

“I see myself doing some-more work like this, and transformative probity work and traffic with homeless youth,” she said. “I’m starting a routine with being means to do that, like removing prepared to go behind to propagandize and operative with girl organizations via a Chicago area.”

Coy pronounced that leveling a personification margin competence assistance outsiders understand. Erasing a myth that those who onslaught with homelessness are opposite from those who don’t is one of a best ways for immature people to assistance a cause, she explained.

“Awareness is so vicious in bargain who a race is. In many ways, there is such a commonality,” Coy said. “These are folks who are rising into adulthood, perplexing to figure out who they are and where they’re going to be in a universe like everybody does during that time of life. There is so most commonality formed on a fact that they are, in fact, peers—whether or not somebody has a place to stay or not.”



number of homeless Chicagoans in a march of a 2013-2014 propagandize year.


number of homeless students CPS identified in a 2013-2014 propagandize year.


of that series were children of color.


were diagnosed with disabilities or developmental delays.


are unparalleled girl who were homeless and vital though a primogenitor or guardian.

Source: Chicago Coalition for a Homeless

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