By Monica, Age 16
The house on the corner of your block is condemned and abandoned.
The windows and doors are boarded up.
There’s no heat, running water, or electricity.
The house is falling apart and decaying, with graffiti everywhere.
The house on the corner of your block is a squat.
It is my home.
There’s dozens of street kids in the squat.
They’re all ages, all races, all different.
It’s one big homeless family.
Everyone pitches in for candles or food.
People donate blankets and sleeping bags, but sometimes we still get cold and wet. The last squat we lived in had holes in the roof, so when it rained the house flooded.
The police visit the house on the corner of your block about twice a month. When they visit us, they harass or arrest us for breaking-and-entering or criminal trespass. Sometimes we even get a ride down to the precinct. And if we’re really lucky, the judge locks us up for trying to find a warm place to stay.
The house on the corner of your block smells real bad from piss and puke.
It has garbage and bugs all over.
When people ask me where I live I say “around.”
I am too ashamed to tell them.
I never have friends over for the day.
They would cry if they knew I lived in a hellhole like that.
The sun doesn’t shine on my house, but the rain falls down on my squat all day long.
The house on the corner of your block looks empty, but it’s not.
There’s dozens of starving kids inside, all waiting for the rain to stop.
When you live on the streets you learn to survive, you learn to be mean.
It’s the nice street kids that don’t survive.
It’s the nice ones that get beat up, raped, mugged, pimped, stuck selling drugs for someone. It’s the nice ones that get killed.
You learn that no one cares about you and that you’re on your own.
The most important thing you learn is never to trust anyone, you’ll just get hurt.
The house on the corner of your block is getting torn down right now as I write this.
Tonight, I have to find a new house on a new corner on a new block.
- National Runaway Safeline:
1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929), www.1800runaway.org – a crisis care hotline that can provide you with assistance 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The NRS can connect you to help and hope through hotline, online and offline resources. NRS also provides a family reunification program offered in collaboration with Greyhound bus.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
- Covenant House:
www.covenanthouse.org – for youth between the ages of 17-21 and living on the streets or in a home that is not safe, Covenant House is in 21 cities across the United States, Canada and Latin America. Their crisis shelters are open 24 hours a day with the promise of a hot meal, a warm bed and the chance to rebuild your life.
- Transitional housing programs for homeless youth:
- National Child Abuse Hotline:
- Search for free or reduced cost services like medical care, food, job training, and more at AuntBertha.com