Jordan never wanted to be homeless. But in his experience, whatever home was, and wherever home had been was no better than the streets. He had bounced from foster home to foster home until he finally aged out of the system and was left to survive on his own. A choice would need to be made: the city’s shelters or the city streets.
Years without family or peer stability and support had left their mark. Now, out on the streets, Jordan’s education suffered as he dropped out of grade 10. On the streets he was surrounded by trauma: overdoses, malnutrition, violence, sex trade, crime, disease, physical and mental illness. Jordan was alone, hungry, scared and exhausted—he needed a change. He heard about YSM’s Evergreen Centre for Street Youth and went there to get a meal and a place to get off the streets for a while.
Jordan found something else – people who showed him dignity and caring. Over time he began to believe that there might be a way forward. Supported by YSM Evergreen staff he began to use health, legal, counselling and employment services. Jordan was able to finally get a job in roofing that allowed him to get an apartment. Continuing his counseling, getting a GED helped to heal the inside. Jordan says, “Life has been hard, but I am finding a way to live the life I want with the help of Evergreen staff.”
Life as a youth on the street is dangerous. It’s a place where you can be robbed, raped or arrested. No youth wants to be on the street yet faced with domestic abuse, LGBTQ discrimination or falling through the cracks of the foster care system, street youth have chosen what they feel is the lesser of two evils. Living short-term with friends, in city shelters or sleeping under bridges demands survival skills that most adults don’t possess. Many street youth look for a way forward but street culture is harsh – a place that is cold, hot, and also soul destroying.