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Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change


Changing the Conversation

Stories of Youth Homelessness & Resiliency: Max


That’s the sign I used to fly when I was homeless.

It served a double meaning for me. One meaning was to get the attention of anyone who just walked past without even looking at me or acknowledging me – like I was a piece of trash. You could see people thinking that every homeless person is the same, thinking that we all have the same story, that we all wind up on the street for the same reason. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Stories of Youth Homelessness & Resiliency: Kay

In January 2014, I was 19 and in a hospital. When the staff decided I was ready to leave, I met with a social worker who gave me the phone numbers of shelters. She did her best.

I walked out of the hospital and onto the street. Soon after I left, I went to a pay phone and called some of the numbers. I was hoping someone would help me figure out where I could sleep that night. But, no one answered the phone. I stood at the pay phone feeling embarrassed and hopeless. I’m not the type to ask for money or other necessities. I wandered around Cambridge, hoping that something would happen.

Stories of Youth Homelessness & Resiliency: Lauren

During the holiday season last year, my son and I were staying in a small church-run shelter. From 8:30 am to 5 pm, I had to leave to sit in an old church basement adjacent to the shelter’s office

It was a big room with some tables and chairs scattered around and a corner with some kids toys and a couch. The room was cold and dusty, and there was mouse poop behind the radiators. It smelled the way you would imagine an old church basement would smell. My son was just learning to walk and would often crawl across the floor, leaving his hands and knees dirty. 

Whose Voices Do We Value? Stories of Youth Homelessness & Resiliency

This post is second in a series of stories from youth about their experiences of homelessness and resiliency. Thank you to each of the authors who have so generously shared personal details of their lives for the benefit of others. We are inspired by their courage and hopes for the future. We must learn from their stories and partner with them to implement effective, meaningful solutions.

I was recently invited to moderate a panel on homelessness. When I asked who would be on the panel, the organizer listed a number of prominent names in the field. I spent a moment feeling impressed and excited about the possibility of rubbing elbows with these individuals…and then I asked if there were any people on the panel who had experienced homelessness.