YouthCare – Seattle, WA

Jessica left home when she was 15 to escape a home environment in which her mother was abusive, both emotionally and physically. When her sole support person, her brother, left to join the Air Force, she left home too. “I couldn’t deal with it any longer,” she said.

After leaving home, she initially “couch surfed.” “I couldn’t get money for rent, I had to keep moving, every one or two weeks I’d have to go to a different friend’s house and stay there. That ran out pretty quick as a resource.”

Jessica talked about how hard it was to get off the streets. “The hardest thing is basically just getting around and trying to find a job ‘cause it’s hard to get a job without an address. If you don’t have somebody’s address that you can use and say ‘I live here’ quote, unquote, then they look at your application and they’re like ‘no'”

Jessica says that a case manager from an Outreach program referred her to ISIS, YouthCare’s transitional living program for gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

Her goals are to “stay in stable housing, which is at the top of the list, and try to finish my GED. I’m doing that through the Interagency school

[at YouthCare’s Orion Center].It’s free,which is good. I have some health goals too.”

She has only been at ISIS for 5 weeks, and seemed surprised at how quick her adjustment was and how at home she feels. “I fit in. Somehow!” She says that the YouthCare staff are ” friendly people. There always open to have a political debate on some kind of hot topic. They’re also there for emotional support. You can come in and be totally frustrated with your day and you can tell them how it went and they’ll sit there and listen to you. And that’s a good thing.”

YouthCare has already provided her with “more focus, more stability, which is a very important thing to have. If you get those, then you can do everything else that you want.”

She says that if she hadn’t gotten involved with YouthCare, she would still be out on the streets. Her long-term plan is to go to college and study sociology. “I want to help people the way they’ve helped me.”