Duane Taylor was studying the humanities in community college and living on his own when he lost his job in a round of layoffs. Then he found and quickly lost two more, says The New York Times.
Now he works at a Jack-in-the-Box and doesn’t make enough money to even share an apartment. He sleeps on a mat in a homeless shelter if he isn’t lucky enough to sleep on the couch at his sister’s place.
Duane says his current goal is simple:
“At any time I could lose my job, my security. I’d like to be able to support myself. That’s my only goal.”
Being underemployed and jobless is the rising norm now in the wake of the recession, leaving tens of thousands of young people, ages 18 to 24, with the highest unemployment rate of all adults. Many of them have college degrees and career experience teasing them with empty promise.
The boomerang set, the ones who can move back in with their parents, are the lucky ones.
Others, like Mr. Taylor, deal with their parents barely scraping by with a job that earns them enough to get by.
Without a stable home address, they are an elusive group that resorts to sleeping on couches or hidden away in cars or other private places, hoping to avoid the lasting stigma of public homelessness during what they hope will be only a temporary predicament.
Yet the problem is mostly unseen. Most cities and states, focusing on homeless families, have not made accommodations for young adults, who tend to shy away from ordinary shelters out of fear of being victimized by an older, opportunistic homeless population, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The Obama administration has started working with nine communities, most of them big US cities, to seek out those between 18 and 24 who lack a consistent home address. New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Boston are among the cities being included in this effort to weed out youth homelessness.
Andrae Bailey, the executive director of the Community Food and Outreach Center of Florida, says:
“Years ago, you didn’t see what looked like people of college age sitting and waiting to talk to a crisis worker because they are homeless on the street. Now that’s a normal thing.”
Some shelters, such as YouthCare, are doing what they can to ease the burden of this situation, and to some, a little hope is all they need.