Ending youth homelessness: It’s not just the Columbus way, it’s the only way

(Photo: Todd King)

Sponsored article by: CbusSeeUs

Alex* left a destructive home life as a teenager.

Desperately seeking support and safety – she was befriended by an older male. He promised he would protect her. He’d hook her up with a place to stay. He’d help her make money.

To a teenager, he was a well-meaning adult who wanted to help. It was only weeks later that Alex found herself in Texas being bought and sold for sex.

Eventually, the child sex trafficking ring was busted by a task force. Cases were filed. Alex was free. She came back to Columbus – her “home”.

Alex made the trip back to Ohio traumatized, numb, empty, and without resources. Columbus was a place where she was still disenfranchised from her family, where she still didn’t have a home.

Alex is sleeping in a tent at night. She’s 20 years old but has lived a lifetime. She’s 5’1 and 100 pounds, headstrong and filled with fire.

She won’t admit it but she’s still vulnerable.

Despite everything she has gone through, she remains focused on finding a way to reunite with her toddler daughter. She wants to join JobCorps so she can finish her high school education and prepare for a meaningful career.

Youth homelessness doesn’t look like what you'd think.

Each of the kids pictured has a unique story of struggle. Fast-growing cities like Columbus are leaving behind this vulnerable population. Resilient kids who are working to redefine themselves - developing from abuse to ambition, trauma to trust, empty to employed.

We need Columbus to rise and support this invisible population. Together can end youth homelessness in our community. It’s not just the Columbus way, it is the only way.

To learn more about youth homelessness in Columbus, to get involved, or to donate visit cbusseeus.org

*Name and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals