Bobby LEe's story
When Bobby Lee was 5 years old, his younger brother and three sisters were placed into foster care because their mom died tragically and there was no other relative who could care for them. He moved around a lot during his time in care, living in five different foster homes and switching schools eight different times.
Two days after he graduated from high school and the state financial assistance ended, he was forced to leave his foster home because the family could not afford to let him stay. By this time, he was working for Six Flags amusement park and was able to move into a cheap apartment with a friend. But when his friend decided to move back in with his parents to save money, Bobby Lee could not afford rent on his own and became homeless.
While homeless, Bobby Lee would sleep in bus stations and sometimes would even hide in the Six Flags park overnight so that he would have a safe place to stay. Sometimes he would get lucky and get to stay on the couch at a friend's house. "I was just trying to survive," Bobby Lee remembers, "but I had no family in a position to help me out and no where to go." Even though he was working steadily and had his high school diploma, he could not afford an apartment on his own.
When Bobby Lee had been homeless for six months, he heard about First Place through his sister, who had recently enrolled in the program. First Place found an apartment he could afford with another roommate from the program. First Place also helped him with money for the security deposit and basic house wares like towels and kitchen utensils. His Youth Advocate worked with him on developing a long term plan for success and helped him find better employment as a security guard that paid him a living wage. He says, "Having a safe place to live gave me the opportunity to concentrate on working and putting a plan together for my future. There was no way I could even think about the long term when I was worried about where I was going to be sleeping that night."
Bobby Lee has been in the program for almost two years and is now self-sufficient enough to be able to afford his housing after he exits. He is also working toward long term goals, specifically joining the military next year. "Now that I'm a stable adult," he says, "I know I can achieve goals I set for myself. I don't have to live in survival mode anymore." He is also hoping to adopt kids of his own one day. "Being adopted is something I always wanted for myself but never got. Even as an adult, it is nice to belong somewhere."