Friday, May 11, 2012

Hosts to keep homeless kids out of the hell

Via @NLIHC, this sounds like a great idea: a family hosting program for homeless youth in Minneapolis. When a family gets evicted or falls apart, or a kid gets kicked out of the house for queerness, the Suburban Host Home Program lines up places for homeless teens to stay that aren't institutional, scary or exploitive. Sounds like a terrific idea.

Twenty years ago, in law school, I helped run a small welfare rights office in San Francisco, the General Assistance Advocacy Project. One day a program for homeless youth near the Castro sent over a newly arrived runaway for benefits advice. He was eighteen, eligible as an adult for what we then called county General Assistance. A kind-looking boy with goofy big hair, wearing the biggest pink-triangle pin I've ever seen on the front of his shirt. He had escaped from disapproving fundamentalists in Colorado. He hadn't finished high school. He asked, in all innocence, would it be a good idea for him to finish school? (Well, good grief, yes, of course.) I only saw the kid that once, for the benefits talk. Have wondered ever since what happened to him. The counseling office that sent him to us had a good reputation. I hope the people there settled him somewhere decent before bad stuff started to happen. Just have to hope he's OK.

Thinking now that, if something like Suburban Host had existed then in that boy's neighborhood, maybe he wouldn't have had to run all the way to San Francisco.

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