Youth Homelessness: Slow, Relational Work

May 26, 2023
By Ivy

In Kevin Nye’s Grace Can Lead Us Home: A Christian Call to End Homelessness he states, “It is important as Christians to recognize that our call is to engage and dismantle systemic injustices, because they are unjust, not because they inconvenience us and cause us to have uncomfortable interactions” (2022). 

When walking down the street, seeing individuals who are experiencing homelessness and being asked for change, or food, or seeing a sign that says, “anything helps”, can certainly be uncomfortable. However, for me personally, what is most uncomfortable is the feeling in my heart. The gut wrenching thoughts of finding myself under the circumstances of living without a stable and safe roof over my head, is something I could never imagine. The pain, the shame, the loneliness. 

I have always been aware of the issue of homelessness, and the unjust systems that comes with it. However, it wasn’t until working with a youth program under the City of Boston in years past that I realized homelessness amongst young people was such a prevalent issue in our community. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, there were 24,658 students across Massachusetts without a stable home at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, 95% of which were students of color. The real number is likely to be higher as this data only includes the youth that were currently enrolled in school. 

Homeless children and youth were defined as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence”. This includes children who are sharing a household with other people due to loss of housing or living in motels, cars, shelters, and other substandard housing. 

This is uncomfortable information to sit with. But imagine how uncomfortable it is for the youth whose reality this is. Not knowing where they may sleep that evening when the school bell rings, if they will be able to shower, brush their teeth, or if they will eat again before school lunch the next day? In the work that I do with young people in the City of Boston and surrounding communities, homelessness is something many of them have encountered or are still struggling to overcome. Thankfully there are certain resources and organizations I am aware of that can help. But my soul is in hopeful expectation that one day this will no longer be a need, as Christians will be educated, equipped, and raised up both near and far, coming together as the hands and feet of Jesus to combat housing injustice and homelessness amongst youth, young adults, and many, many others who are affected by this issue. 

“Jesus was committed to slow relational work, knowing that connection is a healing force that moves us all toward wellness, flourishing and transformation”, words also stated by Kevin Nye. Slow relational work, connection. Something I experienced just yesterday, at 7:02pm when an 18-year-old young man I am working with in the community who just recently received housing, calls me saying, “Ivy, do you think you could help me put together this bed, I have no idea what I am doing?”. I got the few tools that I had and made my way over, no directions or instructions were provided with the bed from the housing agency he was connected with, but the power of a quick Google search and there it was: the manual for a “MALM” bed frame by IKEA. By 9pm, the bed was put together and made up, sheets, comforter, pillows and all. In which he then said, “I can’t wait to go to sleep, I do not know the last time I slept in a bed.” 

“Housing is more than a roof, a ceiling and walls, it is spiritual, it is sacred.” – Kevin Nye




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *