May is a very important month for the staff at Harbor House. May is both Foster Care Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. How real these issues are, daily in the work of Harbor House.
Today, there are more than 437,000 children in foster care in America. 55,000 of those are in California. An astounding 36% of California foster youth become homeless within 18 months of aging out and 46% do not graduate from high school. So many of the most tragic stories in our local community have come from children who aged out of foster care, straight into homelessness.
As many of you know, we have recently opened a home for transitional age foster youth, called “Pi House.” Because of the relationship between kids aging out of foster care into homelessness, Harbor House is working closely with a number of young people entering young adulthood without support. Many who do not qualify for Pi House are still very much in need. We believe that one of the best ways we can have an impact on homelessness is by helping to improve the success rate of these young people who are so much at risk, before they become homeless.
In honor of Foster Care Awareness Month, a few of our Pi House youth gave me some quotes about what our work has meant in their lives.
Juan says “Pi House has given me so much opportunity. I am grateful for
not being alone anymore, not feeling like a single fish in the ocean.” Juan already has a driver’s license and is getting ready to transfer to a four-year university. He also has two part time jobs.
James says “I am one of the boys at this beautiful home in Thousand Oaks. I would like to say that this house has helped me a lot. I came here from a tough situation, especially being homeless with so many hardships. Now I feel safe, and I am comfortable. This place is truly a blessing.” James has two jobs in local restaurants and is working on getting his driver’s license.
P.J. says “I am one of the boys living at Pi House and this house has given me an opportunity to work toward my goals of going to college. It has also given me the opportunity to get my driver’s permit and now I’m working on
getting my driver’s license. I have a steady fulltime job and a place to call home.” PJ is working hard and looking for a better paying full time job while practicing his driving skills.
Mental Health is the number one issue we face in working with those who are chronically homeless. Finding them housing is a daily struggle and, in most cases, there is nowhere to house them. There are no mental hospitals or family or friends to take in the vast majority of those we work with. These are fragile people who cannot fend for themselves, and they are living daily at the mercy of strangers.
We thank those who support us because this work is so important, and it would be impossible without you. We are so grateful that the unhoused, the foster youth, and the mentally ill in our community have strangers like you in their corner.
I pray that if you are not contributing to this work and those who are affected by it, you will consider making this a cause you support. And, as always,
we continue to ask God to heal what is broken, redeem what has been lost, and to help us to Heal the World.