Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Method for Teens to Exit Homelessness

A set of instructions ostensively for keeping one's homelessness secret probably has better utility at helping a teenager escape the streets and find a more-normal life. The "instructions" were written by Lotta Valdez for Lotta Valdez Weblog, in a post titled "How to be homeless and remain undetected." [A post in Joel John Robert's L.A. Homeless Blog alerted us to this find.]

Lotta tells us she was homeless for a year, but nobody knew it. Everything turned out all right for her, thank goodness.

Following is the gist of Lotta's instructions with some thoughts on how they can be followed by a Sacramentan on our mean streets Note, the ideas are fully fleshed out in the post in Lotta's blog.

  • Wear nondescript clothing. Dark clothing will hide dirt better.
  • Invest in a prepaid cell phone.
  • Never stay at a friend's house for more than three days. If you are under 18, adults who take you in can be charged with harboring a runaway.
  • Get a bus pass.
  • Get a part time job and keep it.
  • The Whopper value meal contains over a thousand calories. One of these can keep you going for about a day and a half.
  • Take vitamins if possible. [A Sacramentan can probably get free vitamins from the nurse Suzy or Dr. McKey at Loaves & Fishes.]
  • Stay clean; do laundry frequently.
  • Kurt Cobain taught us that hospital waiting rooms are good places to spend the night. You shouldn't be bothered there, just try to be discreet. There's often free phones in the waiting rooms as well, so you can make some phone calls. [For Sac'to Homeless, the UC Davis Medical Center Emergency waiting room is a good bet.]
  • Never cop an attitude with people who shoo you out of somewhere. Go quietly.
  • The public library is your friend. Try to go to the largest branch possible. [In Sac'to, that's Central Library at 8th&I, downtown]
  • Girls, wear your hair in a bun, guys, keep your head shaved.
  • The system isn't set up to help homeless kids. If you're caught, you stand a big chance of being sent back to your parents.
  • Make a concious plan to get out of the situation. List the steps in detail and complete every one of them. Never become complacent with your situation.
Note that Sacramento Homeless blog does not like the idea of underaged people being out on the streets here or anywhere. We would much prefer that teenagers find adult relatives who will help them to reside in a proper home. But, we do know that some teens find themselves caught in impossible situations.

SacHo will follow up this post with other advice for how a teen might get help from local authorities. Or, how a teen might find a mediated way to reconnect with and iron out problems with his/her parents.

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