Mark Hayward's City Matters: Street life: Stressful, but 'as free as it gets'
Sears is one of hundreds of Manchester youth — advocates define them as anyone under 23 years of age — who are deemed homeless.
But he added that when he doesn't know where he will sleep, his day is incredibly stressful.
Of the four, two were couch-surfing, or staying at the homes of friends. One was 7-1/2 months pregnant and living with her boyfriend, but unsure how long that would last.
Only one, Andrew Burgin, a 22-year-old who grew up in Manchester, is sleeping outside tonight. His sleeping bag always get stolen, so Burgin curls up with a blanket beneath the Queen City bridge. The area smells of human feces, and the bridge can't keep him dry in a soaking rain, he said.
He ran away from an abusive home when he was 17. Although he hates it, Burgin makes money "spanging," or asking people for spare change. Alcohol, he said, keeps him homeless.
• None of the four holds a job: Burgin said he constantly loses his Social Security card; Boulay said McDonald's restaurants told him he is too strong willed; Sears is awaiting disability payments for a seizure disorder.
• And their bonds are as tight as any high-school peer group. The No. 1 rule of the street is to help out those who help you out, they said.
Boulay and his friends said they have seen children as young as 12 on the streets.So what to do about homeless youth? The Mayor's Youth Council came up with 10 recommendations, the most far reaching being a shelter for homeless youth. Technically, New Horizons shelter won't admit anyone under 18, but no one checks IDs there.
"I'm not going to sit and live in a shelter run by authority figures," Boulay said. "I'll live in a youth shelter run by people like me."
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