Why I Chose To Help Kids “Aging Out” Of Foster Care
My first experience with young homeless people occurred when I was 16. Prior to becoming a real estate agent then a broker, our family business was real estate investments. I was 12 years old when I started helping with the business. My job was researching pre-foreclosures and bank owned properties. I would go through listings and databases searching for homes fitting the required criteria and then create a list of them for further research. In addition to developing leads, one of our routine tasks was driving around looking for the leads as well as abandoned and vacant properties. This is when I saw firsthand the tragic situation occurring with young people not much older than myself facing homelessness due to aging out of the foster-care system.
I still remember the first time we were made aware that this type of situation existed. One day we were in downtown Atlanta doing our usual routine of looking at properties on our list. When viewing properties in this area we were always prepared for certain situations like people breaking into the homes and sometimes living there. This day was no exception, so when we saw people hanging out in front of the property it didn’t surprise us. Upon approaching the property, we were asked the typical questions and a conversation would take place as usual. However, this day was different. First of all, it was apparent these were young kids and not the typical people we normally encounter. During the conversation, we quickly learned that these were foster care kids living in the property because they had nowhere to go after having to leave the foster care system upon turning 18. We also found out that there was a number of kids just like them roaming the streets of Atlanta. Like many people in the same situation, they hung out together and tried to assist each other. This group of 4 was no exception. They knew each other from foster care and all ended up homeless on the streets of Atlanta due to aging out of the system.
I learned a lot about the system that day. I knew nothing about foster care much less what happens after they become young adults. I can remember thinking as my mom talked to them what it would be like if I didn’t have a family. This is something that never crossed my mind before that day.
Because my mom was familiar with foster care from her days of working as a guardian ad litem she explained to me how most kids end up in foster care. It was heart-breaking to say the least. From that day forward I wanted to help kids.
One of the biggest issues for young people leaving the foster care system is paying for a place to live once they are no longer provided with housing by the government. “Nobody’s Child” is a new project we created to try and assist foster care kids needing help with a place to live. Our overall objective is to find and pay for housing to help reduce the rate of homelessness that plagues young people leaving the foster care system. We try to provide up to 12 months of rent payments along with other basic expenses and necessities.