Where do you go when you are still in high school and homeless? For many local teens the answer is the Rare Breed Drop-in Center in downtown Springfield. For Lecerius Hall, this was a shelter from a step dad who was involved in illegal substances and abused his mother. Rare Breed offered a place to “cool off and have someone to talk to about problems at home.”
Many teens in the Ozarks have had to resort to shelters and transitional homes like Rare Breed to avoid living on the streets and to find a support system that will believe in them.
“Everybody here is like family, that’s no if ands or buts,” Hall says.
How old are these homeless teens? According to a 2014 study published Monday by the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, 22 percent of the survey respondents that identified as homeless were between the ages of 12 and 15.
“What we are seeing is an increase in adults kicking children out,” Brewer says.
Lonnie Brewer, Safe Place Coordinator with Rare Breed. is referring to that fact that more than half of survey respondents reported being kicked out of the home by their parents. It’s the number one reason for youth homelessness in 2014, up from the number three reason in the previous study conducted in 2012.
Why are these teens being kicked out by parents? More than half of the teens in the survey who identified as LGBTQ believe that contributed to their homelessness. Brewer tells the story of one such youth.
“At the age of 18 he told his father that he identified as gay. His father said, pack your bags. He packed his bags his dad brought him to the front door of Rare Breed; hesaid I never want to hear from you again.”
As an Ozarks citizen what can you do to help out these teens? Lecerious Hall has some ideas.
“There’s easy ways to help out, I mean if you know where the Rare Breed is you can donate clothes, food, even time,” Hall says.
That address is 301 North Main. The phone number is 417-865-6400
For more information of the High Risk and Homeless Youth Survey, visit www.commpartnership.org/homelessyouth