The following was written by one of our students in need. Her name has been changed to protect her confidentiality...
Being homeless to me means not being able to have a cooked meal for dinner.
Relying on school lunches to eat everyday, hopefully making it in time for breakfast, and waiting for Monday to come after a long weekend of having nothing at all.
Being homeless to me means coming home from school to arguments, staying in my room all night to feel safe, afraid to fall asleep, and sleeping in class from the rough night before.
Being homeless to me means not having anyone there for me even when everyone is around, not being able to talk to anyone without an argument starting, trying to do the right thing but not knowing what the right thing is, and can’t rely on myself since I've not been shown what is wrong or right.
Being homeless to me means not have running water, waking up early to shower at school, and doing laundry at friends houses on weekends, often not getting all my clothing back and feeling guilty for needing the help.
Being homeless to me means hoping no one notices I wore the same jeans as yesterday, putting my hair up so no one can tell my hair hasn't been washed in a few days, asking the school counselor for deodorant, and always getting everyone's worn out old clothes just to have something to wear.
Being homeless to me means wanting to ask for help but afraid of what will happen.
It means not being able to do my homework so I can clean the house all night so I won't get yelled at, a house I did not make dirty.
It means coming in for lunches to make up my work as much as I can, and wanting to stay after school but not being allowed.
Being homeless to me means trying to stay over at friends as much as I can, staying late after practice so I don't have to go home so soon, and getting a job to be away for a while.
It means looking up to the stands and never seeing somebody there for ME. It means having teachers share their lunch when the school lunch just isn't enough to fill my belly. It means that despite the fact that there is a bed I can lay my head and I do not feel welcome or safe in that house.
It means there is nobody there to encourage me to do good in school, get my homework done or go to college and better myself.
It means I have NO positive influence inside of my home. Having to have a friend/substitute teacher show up for my "parent/teacher" conference and ensure I stay on track.
*name changed to protect confidentiality
Homeless students sleep in cars or “couch-surf” at friends’ houses.
Some may be part of a family unit doubled- or tripled-up with other families under one roof. Some may live in substandard housing. Most do not know where they are going to sleep tonight, if they are going to be raped, where their next meal is coming from, how they are going to get homework done, or are wondering if classmates will notice their dirty clothes. These are just a few of the immediate issues. The long-term concerns may include,
“Will I be able to hang on long enough to graduate? Will I ever be normal? Is my life going to always be like this? Does anybody care?”
A social worker in the counseling department at Ruidoso High School reported that 40 students were identified as homeless in the 2013-14 school. Data from the 2014-15 school year show that there were at least 39 homeless students identified in Lincoln County.
Formation of High Mountain Youth Project
Much has happened since the summer of 2014 when the Ruidoso News published a letter to the editor and reported on the plight of homeless students in Lincoln County. The High Mountain Youth Project of Lincoln County, New Mexico, formerly the Homeless Students Task Force, has incorporated and is now a tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.