Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Sunny Bjerk , June 28, 2013
Earlier this morning in Boston, twenty-five activists from the Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA) took over the west end of Faneuil Hall to protest the ever-rising rates of homelessness among the city’s youth. Starting their chants of “House me, end AIDS,” and “No home, not safe,” at approximately 11am, the activists, ranging in age from 17-29, drew attention to Boston’s severe lack of emergency shelter space and services tailored to homeless youth. The activists demanded that Chairman of the Boston City Council Housing Committee, Rob Consalvo, commit to providing shelter to all youth who lack adequate housing, including those who are HIV+ and/or identify as LGBT. In 2012, the city’s homeless youth population was as high as 1,971, yet still lacks youth-specific emergency housing.
Tourists and workers walking through Faneuil Hall stopped to take photos and talk to the activists, and one homeless woman joined the protest as well. The activists hoisted cardboard cutouts of life-sized figures that told the story of homeless teens in the city. “I’m 18 years old, a football player, my parents are immigrants, and there are 400 known homeless youth in Boston,” read one. A second figure read, “I’m 24 years old and a cheerleader. My mother was a drug addict and homelessness often leads to poor outcomes.” Lola Akintobi of Boston’s local ABCD Health Services noted that adult-centered shelters can be unsafe places for homeless youth, who are vulnerable to being mistreated while living in close quarters with homeless adults who often have criminal records, drug addictions, or mental illnesses.
In addition to their rousing protest, four of the activists met with two of Boston’s City Councilmembers and their staff to talk about Boston’s growing homeless population and the need to pass House Bill 135, which would provide housing and supportive services for unaccompanied (family-less) youth. Tasha Campbell-Parker of ABCD Health Services and Anthony Roberts Jr. of C2EA Youth met with Councilmember Rob Consalvo’s staff to talk about the specific need to increase the number of emergency shelter beds available for youth, relaying that the city’s only specific shelter—Bridge Over Troubled Waters—only has 40 beds, leaving hundreds of other homelessness youth literally out on the streets. Consalvo’s staff were very interested in learning about the city’s youth homelessness problem and finding ways to support this issue moving forward. Coincidentally, Consalvo is running for the Mayor in Boston this year. In addition, two more activists met with Councilmember Tito Jackson’s office, which also verbalized support.
The protest comes on the heels of Boston’s second Boston Youth Homelessness Summit, which sought to address the 44,000 homeless youth across Massachusetts.
The activists are a part of the Campaign to End AIDS Youth Caucus, an international group of youth age 13-30 who advocate to end HIV/AIDS. Each year, the Caucus hosts a Youth Action Institute, and this year the activists joined together in Boston to learn and network with youth and activists from around the world.
For photos and videos of the action, please visit C2EA Youth’s Facebook page.
For more information on C2EA’s advocacy and Youth Action Institute, please visit c2ea.org.blog comments powered by Disqus
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