To the editor:
I attended an advocacy day — Legislative Action Day — at the Statehouse that highlighted the growing epidemic of youth homelessness in Massachusetts. I learned there are thousands of young people experiencing homelessness. Adult shelters are not safe for youth, as they often they face violence and harassment. In Boston, there are fewer than 25 beds for people under the age of 18! This is unacceptable.
I was heartbroken after listening to the stories from teens, while they courageously told about the causes of their homelessness. Mostly, they recounted how their parents’ addictions, domestic violence, sexual abuse or the rejection for being LGBTQ pushed them to look for another place to live.
I remember one story shared by a lady, Tina. She talked about how her father’s overdose and her mother’s addiction battle and subsequent imprisoning changed her life forever. She became homeless at 13 and had to survive on her own, with no access to shelter. She is now at Salem State University, has two jobs and strives for a better future.
We can take action and support the efforts of Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless to pass House bill 135 “An Act Providing Housing and Support Services to Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.” If this bill is approved, more than 6,000 teens who are homeless would have access to housing and services that will help them develop the skills they need to stand on their feet and work for a better life.