“It’s just like your own house if you were to stay here,” Tia* said about staying at Avenues.
Tia moved into Avenues over the summer, and after only a month in the program she has advice for youth who may stay at Avenues in the future.
“It’s going to feel kind of depressing. Seeing other youth here – they should not have to be here because of being homeless,” Tia said. “But you know, your room is going to be your own little room. It’s going to be private, but just understand that there’s going to be different people here too and that you all came here for a different reason. Just be fair to everyone.”
Tia’s parents live in another country, and before she was kicked out, she lived with another family. For a while Tia was sleeping outside, and eventually she entered the shelter system. While at another shelter, Tia’s gender identify wasn’t respected. They continuously misgendered her and didn’t use her correct pronouns. She called Avenues while living there and moved into an Avenues program shortly after.
“There a times where things can get to the point where you feel like there’s nothing you can do. That you just want to give up. Because I have been there,” Tia said. “In those times, you just have to keep on pushing yourself even though it’s hard.”
Now Tia has a job near Avenues, and is working with staff to find a new job and housing. She’s interested in being a teacher because she loves working with kids. Her dream job though is to travel the world.
“My dream job is to travel to different hotel resorts around the world and give them reviews,” Tia said. “I would love that. I’ve been around the world but I really want to go to Thailand.”
Tia is frustrated by how long it’s taking to get permanent housing after Avenues. She thinks that youth homelessness is often caused by miscommunication and lack of family support. She explained that in some families, if a young person doesn’t fit in with the family’s culture, the family may not know what to do. She also thought society can do better for young people.
“I think society can first understand that it’s a new generation and that people are different. Even though you don’t accept them for their differences, you have to be respectful,” Tia said. “I want the general public to know that even though we’re in shelters, we still have a life. We still are human beings. We’re not any less for anyone, we’re not anything more than anyone. We’re also human so treat us the same way as you treat your family.”
Staff and Tia are continuing to work on her goals. She wants to move into her own place as soon as possible.
*Tia’s name has been changed.