When we think of foster care we’re often told about the youngsters who need a loving home while teenagers who don’t find an adoptive family and age out of the system at 18 are often forgotten.
According to the National Foster Youth Institute, 20 percent of foster children in America become homeless as soon as they age out of the system. And only 50 percent of former foster children are employed by the age of 24.
Carter was one of those teenagers. After his dad went to jail and his mom died when he was 10 years old, his life was spent in foster care. As if those experiences weren’t traumatic enough for a 10-year-old, at 18 years old he had to leave his foster home, and he found himself homeless.
The Oklahoma teen ended up in a homeless shelter and then slept on people’s couches. Thankfully, a non profit in the state was able to lend a helping hand and Carter’s future looked a lot brighter.
The nonprofit Pivot was set up 50 years ago to offer a turning point for those youths in need.
Charity workers were able to offer Carter therapy for the trauma he experienced throughout his life, clothing, and a tiny home to call his own.
Pivot has been helping homeless youths for five decades, but recently added the housing component to the services it offers, building a number of tiny homes for young people aged between 16 and 24 years old behind their offices in Oklahoma.
Offering homeless youths a secure place to call their own not only gives them the security they need so they can focus on work or education but also teaches them vital life skills to help them become more independent and employable.
Carter has now learned how to cook, how to budget, and how to shop for groceries effectively. But it’s the simple things that Carter appreciated when he first moved in.
“Having a bed is going to be different, I sleep on a couch right now and I have a lot a back problems from it,” he said.
Initially a home for a former foster kid is offered for a rent of $0 in the first month. Then the tenants have to pay $100 a month for the second and third months. For months four and five, the rent goes up to $125. Then from six months onwards, the rent is fixed at $150 and tenants can stay in the tiny homes for as long as they need to.
In October 2019, the first three of the charity’s tiny homes opened their doors to formerly homeless foster children. However, the project is only just beginning.
There are plans for more than 80 homes and in 2021 they received a grant to build 20 houses.
Such a wonderful idea to help those teens who have nowhere to go and no support when they reach 18 in the foster care system. I hope more schemes like this are set up.