I was fighting a rat for the remnants of a corn dog I'd salvaged from the trash. That's when I realized I'd crossed the final line I had drawn.
I had told myself, as long as I don't shoot up, I'm OK. As long as I'm not homeless, I'm OK. But now I was shooting up and homeless, and there was nowhere left to draw. I had reached the bottom line of my existence.
Aaron didn't intend to tell his classmates that he was homeless. But when he recorded his own story with StoryCorpsU — a project designed to help kids in high-needs schools build stronger relationships with their teachers — he says, it just came out.
"I felt ... like a big load was let off," Aaron explains. (NPR has withheld Aaron's last name, at the request of his foster care agency, to protect his privacy.) "I don't know what made me say it, but I'm like, 'Let me just be honest and just get it out.' "
With single digit temperatures and below-zero wind chills in the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday, Governor Malloy has enacted the state's severe weather protocol, which coordinates homeless shelters and various state agencies though the state's 211 information and referral line.
“Invisible” is often a term used for homeless youth who fall through the cracks, who lack support and resources. Often, these young people are from minority groups, or are LGBT. Many come out of the foster or juvenile justice system. Fifty percent of them do not have a high school diploma.
It’s a sad story, and one that is hard to quantify, because there are few hard numbers on how many young people are on the streets.
Frequent WNPR guest and former Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell rode along with the Hartford Homeless Outreach Team early on Thursday morning. She works for Partnership for Strong Communities, which is working to end homelessness.
A study released this month explores homelessness among youths in Connecticut. The report, called “Invisible No More,” was co-authored by two researchers, Derrick Gordon and Bronwyn Hunter, of The Consultation Center at Yale University School of Medicine. They found that homeless youths are a virtually invisible population in the state, often not connected to services that could help steer them away from the risks of poverty, crime, and addiction.
"Street newspapers" are designed, written and sold by the homeless. They are small, usually no more than a few pages, and feature articles, photographs and poetry about what it's like to live in shelters or on the street. They're easy to find in cities like Portland, Oregon or Providence and as WNPR's Patrick Skahill reports, now Hartford has its own street newspaper.
Recent reports show a 3% increase of people in shelters in Connecticut from 2009 to 2010. Of this population, more than half of all families and 40% of single adults in shelters report being homeless for first time And in these harsh winter months, even overflow homeless shelters are overflowing.