Formerly homeless youth share a message that “help is available” in a powerful new set of television public service announcements (PSAs) launched nationally by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) and National Runaway Safeline (NRS).
While it is difficult to estimate the exact number of young people who are experiencing homelessness, it is known that every year, at least tens of thousands of young people leave their homes due to disruptive family conditions such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse, parental neglect, or addictions among family members. Foster youth who age out of their residential or organizational placements may become homeless once discharged. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) youth may be asked to leave their homes by family members who disapprove.
“Some young people spend time sleeping on their friends’ couches. Others might live on the streets and lie about their situation,” said National Runaway Safeline Director Maureen Blaha. “There are a variety of situations leading young people to feel that leaving home is the best option.”
The PSAs, available in both 30-seconds and 60-seconds formats, feature four young people served by grantees of FYSB's Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.
- Soy is a 15-year-old whose mother drank and was physically abusive, causing Soy to leave home because she didn't feel safe.
- Leo, a teenage boy, was kicked out of his parents’ house in Mexico when he came out to them at age 13. He soon found himself addicted to drugs and exchanging sex for money and other resources in order to survive.
- Nelly, a teen living with her grandmother, craved a sense of belonging. She joined her friends who lived on the streets in an effort to find herself and a place to belong.
- Valerie, a transgender college student, couldn’t be her true self at home. Her father would say homophobic things and was emotionally abusive. Valerie began living secretly in an academic building on campus, while her grades fell and her depression grew. She finally dropped out of school and moved to California with nowhere to stay and only $5 in her pocket.
Fortunately, each young person eventually found help through FYSB-funded shelters. The PSAs provides information for other youth in similar situations to contact the National Runway Safeline, a FYSB-funded hotline that connects young people and adults to local resources. The National Runaway Safeline Visit disclaimer page is avalable 24/7 at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929). Support is also provided via email and live chat.