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Living on the Edge: Youth Homelessness in Columbia

There's been a lot of recent attention on homelessness in Columbia, primarily focused on the visible adult homeless population, and concerns about the effects of homelessness on our downtown economy. But the heated debates, and the currently available community resources, haven't really addressed one huge part of the issue: homeless youth. Children in homeless families -- and especially unaccompanied youth trying to make it on their own -- are falling through the cracks.

Come learn the facts about youth homelessness and help us brainstorm what we can do to help our homeless youth find stability and a bright future.

A panel discussion and community forum will be held on Sunday, November 17th from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. in the Bostick Auditorium at Richland Library Main.

Panelists include:

  • Deborah Boone, Richland School District 1 homeless education liaison
  • Anita Floyd, Chair of the South Carolina Coalition for the Homeless
  • Angela Culbreath, Family Services Director of the Columbia Family Shelter
  • WIS' Judi Gatson will moderate the discussion, and bestselling local author Janna McMahan will share how teen homelessness inspired her to write her newest novel.

    A follow-up discussion is scheduled for March 23rd, which will also be held at Richland Library Main.


    Anonymity by Janna McMahan
    Amazon Says: She's not just a random homeless girl. Lorelei is street smart, elusive and manipulative. She's a survivor, always on the move. Always one step ahead of the danger in h more...
    Amazon Says: She's not just a random homeless girl. Lorelei is street smart, elusive and manipulative. She's a survivor, always on the move. Always one step ahead of the danger in her past. Emily's a hard-partying bartender in downtown Austin with problems of her own. When she meets a handsome reporter looking for a photographer, Emily volunteers her camera skills. As she follows him into the sordid world of gutter punks, Emily finds an unexpected friendship that will redefine her life. But Emily realizes too late that each of her attempts to help only puts her new friend in ever increasing peril. Can she unravel the mystery of Lorelei's past and find a way to protect her? Or would the girl be better off unknown and on her own? Anonymity is a gritty, harrowing account of young people who live life on the edge when all they really want is a safe place to call home.   less...
    Amazon


    Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick
    Amazon Says: “This special book dares us to embrace audacious hope. Amber Appleton is my hero.” —Sara Zarr, author of Once Was Lost and National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl more...
    Amazon Says: “This special book dares us to embrace audacious hope. Amber Appleton is my hero.” —Sara Zarr, author of Once Was Lost and National Book Award finalist Story of a Girl   Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom’s boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B), have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self- proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber’s optimism—and her way of life—can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope?             With an oddball cast of characters, this heartwarming, inspiring novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope. The world is Amber’s stage, and Amber is, well . . . she’s sorta like a rock star. True? True. less...
    Amazon


    Amazon Says: Brianna Karp entered the workforce at age ten, supporting her mother and sister throughout her teen years in Southern California. Although her young life was scarred by violen more...
    Amazon Says: Brianna Karp entered the workforce at age ten, supporting her mother and sister throughout her teen years in Southern California. Although her young life was scarred by violence and abuse, Karp stayed focused on her dream of a steady job and a home of her own. By age twenty-two her dream became reality. Karp loved her job as an executive assistant and signed the lease on a tiny cottage near the beach.And then the Great Recession hit. Karp, like millions of others, lost her job. In the six months between the day she was laid off and the day she was forced out onto the street, Karp scrambled for temp work and filed hundreds of job applications, only to find all doors closed. When she inherited a thirty-foot travel trailer after her father's suicide, Karp parked it in a Walmart parking lot and began to blog about her search for work and a way back. less...
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    Amazon Says: “Riveting . . . A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.” (Kirkus Reviews)   more...
    Amazon Says: “Riveting . . . A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.” (Kirkus Reviews)   A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Teens A Joan F. Kaywell Award Finalist from the Florida Council of Teachers of English   Carissa Phelps was a runner. By the time she was twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp. Even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse. But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Through small miracles, Carissa accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She left the streets behind, yet found herself back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth discover their own paths to a better life. Like the multimillion-copy bestseller The Glass Castle, this memoir moves us through the power of its unflinching candor and generosity. less...
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    Amazon Says: Inside the lives of homeless teens--moving stories of pain and hope from Covenant HouseAlmost Home tells the stories of six remarkable young people from across the Unit more...
    Amazon Says: Inside the lives of homeless teens--moving stories of pain and hope from Covenant HouseAlmost Home tells the stories of six remarkable young people from across the United States and Canada as they confront life alone on the streets. Each eventually finds his or her way to Covenant House, the largest charity serving homeless and runaway youth in North America. From the son of a crack addict who fights his own descent into drug addiction to a teen mother reaching for a new life, their stories veer between devastating and inspiring as they each struggle to find a place called home. Includes a foreword by Newark Mayor Cory Booker Shares the personal stories of six homeless youths grappling with issues such as drug addiction, family violence, prostitution, rejection based on sexual orientation, teen parenthood, and aging out of foster care into a future with limited skills and no support systemGives voice to the estimated 1.6 million young people in the United States and Canada who run away or are kicked out of their homes each yearIncludes striking photographs, stories of firsthand experiences mentoring and working with homeless and troubled youth, and practical suggestions on how to get involvedDiscusses the root causes of homelessness among young people, and policy recommendations to address themProvides action steps readers can take to fight youth homelessness and assist individual homeless young peopleWritten by Kevin Ryan, president of Covenant House, and Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Times writer Tina KelleyInviting us to get to know homeless teens as more than an accumulation of statistics and societal issues, this book gives a human face to a huge but largely invisible problem and offers practical insights into how to prevent homelessness and help homeless youth move to a hopeful future. For instance, one kid in the book goes on to become a college football player and counselor to at-risk adolescents and another becomes a state kickboxing champion. All the stories inspire us with victories of the human spirit, large and small. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book will help support kids who benefit from Covenant House's shelter and outreach services. less...
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    Amazon Says: Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many clas more...
    Amazon Says: Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many classes that she was put into a girls' home. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep. When Liz's mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a New York Times scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League. Breaking Night is an unforgettable and beautifully written story of one woman's indomitable spirit to survive and prevail, against all odds. less...
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    Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
    Amazon Says: A homeless boy who lives in an airport with his father, moving from terminal to terminal trying not to be noticed, is given hope when a trapped bird finally finds its freedom. more...
    Amazon Says: A homeless boy who lives in an airport with his father, moving from terminal to terminal trying not to be noticed, is given hope when a trapped bird finally finds its freedom. less...
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    Leaves in October, The by Jennifer Ackerman
    Amazon Says: What will life be like in a shelter for the homeless?That's what Livvy wonders after her father, "Poppy, " loses his job and her mother leaves them.While their father looks fo more...
    Amazon Says: What will life be like in a shelter for the homeless?That's what Livvy wonders after her father, "Poppy, " loses his job and her mother leaves them.While their father looks for work, Livvy and her little brother, Younger, get to know the people in the shelter. Some are scary, while some are friendly. Before long Livvy finds a way to earn money to help Poppy buy a home. She can't stop believing in Poppy's promise "When the leaves in October are red and gold, we'll be home."Then one day Poppy has good news and bad news. Will Livvy have to give up her dreams of living together as a family? less...
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    I Can Hear the Sun by Patricia Polacco
    Amazon Says: Fondo, who lives in a settlement house, is befriended by the park animal keepers, so, when the settlement house decides to send Fondo away, he, with the help of a blind goose, more...
    Amazon Says: Fondo, who lives in a settlement house, is befriended by the park animal keepers, so, when the settlement house decides to send Fondo away, he, with the help of a blind goose, manages to escape, renewing everyone's faith in miracles. less...
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    Someplace to Go by Maria Testa
    Amazon Says: Davey describes how he spends his time after school trying to keep safe and warm until he can meet his mother and older brother when the shelter opens at eight o'clock. more...
    Amazon Says: Davey describes how he spends his time after school trying to keep safe and warm until he can meet his mother and older brother when the shelter opens at eight o'clock. less...
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    Theories of Relativity by Barbara Haworth-Attard
    Amazon Says: My fingers search the cardboard container, but I’ve finished the fries. I squirt ketchup on my fingers and lick it off. I’m never full. I think it was one of the reasons I more...
    Amazon Says: My fingers search the cardboard container, but I’ve finished the fries. I squirt ketchup on my fingers and lick it off. I’m never full. I think it was one of the reasons I had to leave, or, rather, my mother kicked me out. Jenna’s a runaway, but I’m a throwaway. Tossed out. Like garbage. Keep your wits about you. Check your back. Do what it takes to survive on the streets. Dylan is living on the streets not through any choice of his own, unlike some of the teenagers he meets in the same situation. He’s been cut loose by his unstable mother, and lost most contact with his two younger brothers. He has nothing but his backpack stuffed with a few precious belongings and the homeless kids he meets. At least he has his theories. No one can take those away from him. Like how every fourth person throws him spare change; how no one does anything for anyone without a price; and how he just might be able to find a place in this complicated world. Disturbing, gritty, painful, hopeful—this is a story of a sixteen-year-old determined to survive against all odds. less...
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    A Life Without Consequences by Stephen Elliott
    Amazon Says: A Life Without Consequences is a semi-biographical novel from emerging author Stephen Elliott. His novel traces the fate of Paul, a boy whose mother has died and who runs away more...
    Amazon Says: A Life Without Consequences is a semi-biographical novel from emerging author Stephen Elliott. His novel traces the fate of Paul, a boy whose mother has died and who runs away from a violent father. The book follows Paul from living on the streets of Chicago to passing through juvenile institutions and a state system that is primarily programmed for failure. There, he meets Tanya and they fall in love but they are young and are separated after a failed attempt to escape the institution. Paul battles through the violent system all the while battling his own rapidly budding adolescence. But as he turns sixteen he starts to come to terms with his own path, not as an adult, but as a scared child and we see that Paul’s emotions that we think of as anger are actually the determination to take control of his future. While the characters are fictional, they are representative of many and we realize the fragility of childhood and the burden on the children who have nowhere else to go. less...
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    The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
    Amazon Says: The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more more...
    Amazon Says: The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go, and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. When her talent is discovered by a local florist, she discovers her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But it takes meeting a mysterious vendor at the flower market for her to realise what's been missing in her own life, and as she starts to fall for him, she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, and decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. The Language of Flowers is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love. less...
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    Runaways by Keith Elliot Greenberg
    Amazon Says: Discusses why some young people run away from troubled homes and what can happen to them and tells the stories of several teenagers who found help at Noah's Ark, a shelter run more...
    Amazon Says: Discusses why some young people run away from troubled homes and what can happen to them and tells the stories of several teenagers who found help at Noah's Ark, a shelter run by Sister Dolores Gartanutti. less...
    Amazon

    Living on the Edge: Youth Homelessness in Columbia
    Sarah G. Says: A short video clip from the November 17 program Living on the Edge: Youth Homelessness in Columbia
    YouTube Says: There's been a lot of recent attention on homelessness in Columbia, primarily focused on the visible adult homeless population, and concerns about the effects of homelessness ...
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