my boyfriend is homeless. what do i do?!

hi heather,
My boyfriend and I are 16, my family is great and the economy hasn’t affected us at all. Unfortunately for my boyfriend it’s not the same, his mom is pretty much homeless and stays with her friends for a week or so then moves on. He has been living with his 22 year old brother and his brothers partner; they were doing the best they could until his brothers car broke down and they couldn’t pay rent. Now they are evicted and his brother is living with some friend while his partner moved back in with his parents.

Today, he found out they can’t afford him living there and my boyfriend has no where else to go. No other family. I asked my mom if he could live with us but our house is not big enough. I want to help, I want my boyfriend to belong to somewhere, I want him to have a bed to sleep in. What do I do? What can I do?

It’s really tough to hear that happened to your boyfriend. It’s also really tough to hear that his parents, more seriously, have abandoned him. All states, except Maryland,  have some form of statute criminalizing the underlying facets of child neglect and abandonment. Since I don’t know what state you’re in, I can’t give you exact advice on how to handle the situation and help. It could be that your family taking him in, even if they could, would be seen as harboring a youth if his mother were to come back and claim him!

What does make him lucky though, is to have a caring gURLfriend like you to help him out. Your parents may not have the resources to take in another person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help him in other ways.

Firstly, he needs to call the National Runaway Switchboard, which is a toll free, confidential hotline especially for teens. Obviously, he’s not a runaway but they also help kids who have been abandoned and are impoverished.  The Switchboard staff will listen and can tell him about people in your community who can help him.  Here’s the number: 1-800-621-4000.

He can also apply to stay at a shelter; the nationalhomeless.org website has some helpful resources. If he has the time for a part-time job, perhaps there is a hostel where he can stay for a few dollars a day.

Many shelters limit the amount of stuff a person can take in, so maybe you and our parents can help store some of his things in the meantime.

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Also, he needs to alert the school — they can help too.

Here’s the hardest part: he has to stay in school. Not only can the counselors help, but it’s also his ticket to self-sufficiency. If he can somehow overlook all that he has been through and concentrate on his grades and talents, I’m sure he can graduate and earn more money at a job, or better yet, impress the pants of a college or university somewhere and be able to live for free on a scholarship.

As hard as this time might be for him to get through, you have to help him keep up hope and goals for a better future. And how could it not be with you there to help?

take care,
heather

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