Our community can expect a collaborative effort to resolve youth homelessness
In Franklin County, 3,000 youth are estimated to be homeless each year and another 4,000 at imminent risk of becoming homeless. When you’re young and in this situation, you need more than a roof over your head. You need skills for living independently so you can sustain your home and work toward a better tomorrow. Through an effort spearheaded by the Community Shelter Board and chaired by Huckleberry House Past Executive Director Becky Westerfelt, organizations and individuals came together to create appropriate services for youth and address the community-wide issue. The resulting comprehensive plan, A Place to Call Home for Youth, leverages new Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in July 2018.
Meet Rose, A Transitional Living Program Client
Rose worked hard all through high school to maintain a high GPA. She always wanted to go to college and knew it would take hard work to get there. But while her parents expected her to do well in school, they also expected her to help raise her eight younger siblings. And she had to do it all without their support and often while being told her efforts weren’t good enough.
Rose graduated with high marks. But without any help or direction from her parents, she missed the deadline for applying for financial aid for college. Then, shortly after graduation, things erupted at home. Rose was kicked out and found herself without a place to live. She spent some time at her boyfriend’s mom’s home. And when that wasn’t possible, she found herself sometimes spending the night on the streets and just trying to survive. Any dreams of college and the future she had always wanted started to slip away.
Then one of Rose’s past teachers from high school told her about the Transitional Living Program. When she connected with the staff from Huck House, Rose felt for the first time like she had a parent to turn to for help. “I’ve always had to learn everything and do everything for myself. It was so nice to finally have a support system and someone to give me advice. And it was nice to hear that I was doing a good job instead of being called names or told I wasn’t good enough,” says Rose.
It made all the difference for Rose. With her team’s help, she got settled into her TLP apartment, found a job, and was able to complete the paperwork for school. She is currently enrolled at Columbus State in the Pathways program and hopes to complete her general education courses then go to the Columbus College of Art and Design to receive her Bachelor of Arts. She dreams of opening a business for photography and visual editing design.
She’s also working through her family issues with her counselor’s help. While she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to repair her relationship with her parents, she’s learning to let go of her anger and heal internally. “I’m really emotionally healthy right now, and I’m not willing to let negativity from my family drag me down,” she says. Rose is currently focused on working and studying, finding a permanent apartment for after TLP, and enjoying her life.
“I just got a car, I’m doing really well, and I’m having fun,” she says. Rose has her future back. And she’s embracing it with open arms.