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Homeless youth in Shelton: No place to go

At 9 percent, the Shelton School District's homeless rate is three times the state average, but there are no overnight shelters for kids under 18.

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“We don’t have a real community center for teens,” Massie said. “These are good places to connect with adults outside the school system … There are not many wholesome places for teens to hang out and do things in the community.”

Homeless youth, ages 18 to 21, who use the Housing Options for Students in Transition (HOST) program — HOST provides temporary housing, monthly stipends, case management and job shadow opportunities — “have been let down by every adult in their life,” said Delphina Liles, the group’s program coordinator.

Such is the case with Jesse Dowty, KeAndra Radchenko and Brenden Pippins, the three teenagers who shared their stories of being homeless in Shelton. Miles Nowlin, who supports homeless teens as the homeless liaison for the Shelton School District, said the three share other traits, among them “the oomph, the resiliency which comes naturally when you’re thrown into extreme circumstances.”

BRENDEN

Born in Missouri and raised in Minnesota, Pippins came to Shelton when he was 11. He arrived with his sister, two brothers and his mother, who moved the family to Shelton to live with a man she met online.

“He was an alcoholic, and there was always fighting,” Pippins said. “He was abusive toward us. I don’t think there was a day there wasn’t a drunken fight.” Pippins said his mother was addicted to pills and drinking heavily, and would beat herself up, then call police and claim she’d been assaulted by her children.

Starting at age 15, Pippins was in and out of the house. He became homeless fulltime at 16 when his mother moved to Oklahoma, and two of his siblings joined their long-lost father in Missouri.

Pippins would stay for a few days at a time at the homes of friends, or in the woods or in the recyclable cardboard bins behind Fred Meyer and Evergreen Landscaping. “It was not out in the open," he explained, "but easy to get to and stay out of the rain.”

On a typical day, if he’d slept at all, Pippins would wake up about 4 a.m. and walk to downtown Shelton to wait for the soup kitchen to open. These days, Pippins receives help from the HOST program, and gets jeans and shoes and other items from Youth N Action, a statewide advocacy program that empowers underserved people, ages 14 to 24, to share their opinions on public policy decisions. His plans include finding a part-time job, completing his GED and attending college, and perhaps incorporating his interests in tattooing and glass blowing.

JESSE

Dowty’s father left him when he was 3. By the time he was 15, he was fighting with his stepfather. “I was pretty lazy, until they kicked me out when I was 18,” he said.

Dowty's parents sent him to Job Corps, which showed him the door after a dispute about his medications. Dowty was “shocked” by his parents’ response to his ouster from Job Corps. “They didn’t let me come home,” he said. “They told me where the shelter was.”

At 18, Dowty was just old enough to be admitted to the Cold Weather Shelter in downtown Shelton. But, “I was running my mouth and getting my ass beat,” he said. With nowhere to go, no income and no way to wash his one set of clothes for a possible job interview, “I was really lost," he said. "… After time, I got used to it.”

Dowty ate at the soup kitchen, took advantage of meals offered by Community Lifeline and stole food from a Shelton grocery store. He was banned from a coffeehouse for using its bathroom; he used the restrooms at the armory building until it closed. He found shelter from the storms in the Starbuck’s section at Safeway, and inside the Shelton Civic Center. He said police cut holes in the tent he pitched behind Les Schwab, to let the rain in.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 6:17 a.m. Inappropriate

I feel sorry for these kids- but out of the 374, 234 were not homelsss.

Seasoned

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 7:52 a.m. Inappropriate

Keep going: 234 + 87 + 3 = 324 out of 374 aren't homeless.

You'd think with all the bleeding heart liberals they'd be able to find 50 couches.

Simon

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 7:52 a.m. Inappropriate

I'm suffering from chronic homeless teenager fatigue Crosscut stories. These kids have it tough, but how can all this hand-wringing possibly help them? How about this: take the money you pay the writers and give it to homeless kids.

gabowker

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 8:22 a.m. Inappropriate

So let's start a new Civilian Conservation Corps. Let's find them shelters in movable facilities that can go place to place to work on public works projects. They can build new playgrounds and picnic shelters in our parks. They can weed our playfields and clean up graffiti. They can help patch potholes, or set out traffic cones for civic construction projects. They can paint benches and street garbage cans, sweep sidewalks, powerwash bus stops, and clear and maintain trails in our parks and national forests.

There is a ton of work to be done on our infrastructure, and thousands of healthy people who want work, food, and shelter. We are still enjoying the work that the CCC did in our city parks, state parks, and national parks and I can't think of why we aren't doing it again.

talisker

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 8:33 a.m. Inappropriate

Have them work? Are you kidding? Why these days that would be absolutely un-American.

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 2:17 p.m. Inappropriate

Not to mention your public sector unions will not allow it.

BlueLight

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 8:21 p.m. Inappropriate

"His plans include finding a part-time job, completing his GED and attending college, and perhaps incorporating his interests in tattooing and glass blowing."

He's not going to get out of Shelton with this career path choice.

Djinn

Posted Thu, Jun 26, 11:53 p.m. Inappropriate

I agree, but note that completing his GED and attending trade school or college are the primary keys to moving ahead. The tattooing and glass blowing should be secondary, like hobbies. Learning and skill building first.

Posted Sat, Jun 28, 1:47 p.m. Inappropriate

Again not my words. My plans was to find a job and Finnish getting my GED so I could go to collage. Career interest is programming (Computer/phones/etc) & pshycology (involving drug/chemical dependency). Both I've been learning, researching & getting involved with my self for a few years now and still going. As for hobbies programming androids/smart phones, playing music, tattooing, and glass blowing.
Now I finally have a job full time, still working on GED with plans for collage and getting my first home.

And comments like " he'll never get out of Shelton with this career path" is one way to make youth give up and not care. Doesn't matter what that dream career is. Enough youth hear that their dreams or ideas will get them no where or amount to nothing and when one hears that enouph it becomes true. You see, not enouph adults push their youth to follow a dream and instead they ruin them.
Example; I brought two different outdated androids with corrupted software. They took a look at them and said " you can't fix them, there's no way." But I'm stubborn and I used a laptop at Starbucks and brought both phones back to them and sure as hell I proved them wrong.

Instead of doubting youth, push them to follow their interests.

Posted Thu, Jun 26, 8:41 p.m. Inappropriate

To start off, I am Branden Pippins.
With no intention of disrespect to the author, I'd like to say our story's
Were very disappointing to read in the paper. The amount of twisted info and lack of facts and our voices in our story's was extremely upsetting.
KeAndra's story has some truth & facts but was also
Far off and wrong in many ways. My story was also very disappointing and lacked many facts and voice.
A lot of my story and statements was interpreted wrong and twisted.

I understand every one hears, thinks, and sees from a different point of view but we feel like we were unheard and the author should of wrote our story's and statements the way we gave them, and not changed to his liking.

I have more to say but it will have to wait.
Branden.

Posted Thu, Jun 26, 11:50 p.m. Inappropriate

Nice to hear from you Branden.

Write again.

Posted Mon, Jul 21, 7:30 a.m. Inappropriate

I wish you all the best. Please work hard at any job you can get and stay off drugs. The path you need to take is not easy, but the rewards are tremendous.

Seasoned

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