Hidden Homelessness: Youth Voices — Homeless With A Roof Over My Head [Storm’s Story]

Hidden Homelessness: Youth Voices is a youth storytelling series developed by SchoolHouse Connection that highlights the often overlooked and unseen experiences that define child and youth homelessness. Under the education subtitle of federal law (the McKinney-Vento Act), the definition of homelessness includes common situations for families and youth experiencing homelessness, including staying temporarily in hotels or motels and living temporarily with others — both of which are exemplified in this essay.

Youth experiencing homelessness in these conditions face comparable trauma and challenges as those who live unsheltered, but are often harder to identify and are either not considered to be homeless or not prioritized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), thus making them unable to obtain homelessness assistance through HUD.

Hidden Homelessness: Youth Voices seeks to raise awareness of these realities of homelessness experienced by youth across the nation.

This is Storm’s story.

My name is Storm Bryant, and I am a first-generation college student. I live on campus for most of the year, but I go to my aunt’s house during winter and summer break. Both the university and my aunt’s house are safe, but I haven’t always lived in a safe place. Prior to starting college, I lived in a toxic, unsafe household.

I grew up in a house that looked normal on the outside but was very bad on the inside. My parents emotionally and verbally abused me almost all my life. They said a lot of horrible things to me, and they once told me that I would fail in life without them. When upset at my mother, my father would often drink alcohol, get drunk, and slam doors. My mother did drugs, specifically meth, and she was caught a few times by my father. She quit a few times but it was always temporary. They fought and yelled at each other a lot, and I always saw and/or heard it. I have a lot of trauma due to my parents and everything I witnessed.

My name is Storm Bryant, and I am a first-generation college student. I live on campus for most of the year, but I go to my aunt’s house during winter and summer break. Both the university and my aunt’s house are safe, but I haven’t always lived in a safe place. Prior to starting college, I lived in a toxic, unsafe household.

For a long time, I didn’t realize that I was considered homeless. It never really crossed my mind because I had a roof over my head. When my school counselor told me about the SchoolHouse Connection scholarship, I didn’t think I was eligible, because I thought that I wasn’t homeless. However, I learned that my house was unlivable and when I found out that I was considered homeless, it opened up resources that were life-changing for me. I believe that a lot of young people may not know that they are homeless. You may have a roof over your head, but when there are people and things that can physically and emotionally harm you, a lack of heat, and so on, it is not a home. A home is somewhere with electricity, running water, no major infestations, and a place of safety. I am thankful for the individuals and resources I did eventually find, and I am thankful for this season of healing in my life.

When I came to the University of Montevallo, I cut my parents out of my life for good, and I am in a better mental space than I ever have been. I think my healing started in the second half of my high school junior year when I started talking to my high school counselor. She and various teachers helped me a lot during my high school experience. In December 2020, I learned I was one of the ten students in the country to win the SchoolHouse Connection scholarship. SchoolHouse Connection has been a big help to me, and I am very thankful for them. My aunt and her family have been a great support as well, and I am very thankful they are letting me stay with them during the winter and summer breaks.

I was a little nervous to start college, but I have made new friends, met amazing professors, and have developed a great support system. I am even a part of my University Programming Council! I have found a place where I have access to a bed, meals, safety, and a support system. My university has become my home and I’m thankful for this opportunity and space to begin the next chapter of my life. Higher education is my ticket out of my past situation and it will hopefully provide me with a life far different from the one I was raised in. Education means the world to me and one day I will walk across that stage with my past experiences being nothing but a distant memory.

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SchoolHouse in Session

This is hub of expertise and stories to drive solutions around children, youth, and family homelessness. It is a project of SchoolHouse Connection.