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Housing & Homelessness
KLCC's Tiffany Eckert produced this three part series on Lane County Homeless Youth: Hidden In Plain Sight. It aired in April, 2019.Jacob, Kelly & Makayla

Makayla: Lane County Homeless Youth "Hidden In Plain Sight"

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Tiffany Eckert
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Every homeless kid out there has a story. In Part 2 of our series, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” KLCC’s Tiffany Eckert shares the difficult experiences of a Springfield run-away teen who spent years living in the woods and on the streets-- before getting the social support that changed her life.

Makayla Elliot ran away from home when she was 14.

“My mom and I were fighting a lot. And I did have a place to go at first. I had a really good friend who lived with her grandparents. And then um, I wasn't allowed to stay with her anymore so I just started camping out.  Then…I met a guy and he convinced me that we could make it on our own,” says Makayla.

“You know I was 15. He was 23.”

Makayla says they made a camp on Franklin Blvd off the bike path.

And it was good for a while then it got not good,” she says. “There were a lot of people using drugs. Then we got kicked out of there.”

When she tries to recall her life on the streets, Makayla says there are “gaps” in her memory. Keeping the timeline straight is difficult because each day had challenges that blended into the next.

“I was still with him,” Makayla says. “I didn’t know at the time but I was pregnant and I didn’t know because I was so early along.”

Makayla says they stayed outside some nights.

“And then finally I had a friend who took us in. But everybody who lived there was [sic] really bad alcoholics. And I obviously wasn’t drinking because I was pregnant,” says Makayla. “It was rough for a while and then we got kicked out of there. A lot of back and forth. A lot of stress.”

It is under these circumstances that the sixteen year old gave birth to a boy. Makayla put him up for adoption. Two weeks later, they were back out on the streets. 

“My boyfriend was running from the law so we lived out by Cougar Reservoir. We had no food. We had no money for the bus. It was rough for a while there.”

Pride. Makayla says that is what kept her boyfriend from asking for help. But there is one service they did count on.

“The only place we ate at was Hosea’s,” she recalls. “Which is down by Monroe Park. It’s was really homey place. It was a home for me.”

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Since 1997, Hosea Drop in Center has provided hospitality and support to young people impacted by the streets. Three evenings a week, at risk and homeless youth between 16 and 23 are welcome to come in for showers, laundry service, recreation and a hot meal.

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Hosea Drop In Center staff bring pizza for guests.

Hosea’s is a Christian non-profit. It’s located in the bottom floor of a church in Eugene. Before dinner, about 15 young people form a circle for a quick prayer.

(Hear praying) “…to our bodies and thank you for sending your son to die on the cross for us. In his name we pray. Amen.”  

“Amen”

“Let’s eat!”

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Then everyone lines up for pizza. Some kids sit at the circular tables. A couple guys start playing pool.

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Recreation is a big part of spending time at Hosea drop in.

Joshua Frank is the Resource Center director at Hosea.

“Normally we actually see about 20, 25, 30 a night,” says Frank. “Tonight’s a little low cause it’s the first of the month and food stamps just went out. So, yea.”

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Joshua Frank is Hosea's Resource Center Director.

Joshua Frank nods toward a young man holding an infant carrier. 

“We have normally a handful of new parents at any given time--so it’s pretty common.”

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Hosea volunteer Kim Adams (right) and guest Tamal Hitchcock.

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Makayla wants to be a role model for her daughter.

(Sounds of a baby)

“This is Phoebe Elliot. Phoebe Elizabeth Louise Elliot,” Makayla gushes.

Makala credits Hosea Drop-In Center for sustaining her until she could change her life. As she bounces her second child-a daughter, on her knee, she explains how she did leave her first boyfriend but soon found herself at risk once again.

“I was in an abusive relationship with a man and that’s who I got pregnant with my daughter with,” Makayla says. “And I decided to leave him.”

So Makala was homeless and pregnant again.

“And I just decided this is it,” Makayla says. “I can’t screw around anymore. I have a child on the way. I have to get serious. And I can’t give another one up.”

Makala enrolled at New Roads, a non-profit program through Looking Glass Community Services, providing transitional housing and alternative education opportunities for homeless youth. She was able to get her diploma. She put her name on a list for housing and against all odds, her name was picked.

“They got me into my very own 2-bedroom apartment. And I’ve lived there for a year now and I’ll never go back,” Makayla states clearly. “This was a life changer for me. I’m taking this opportunity in my life right now to save up. I want to be self-sufficient.”

Today, Makala feels empowered and wants to be of assistance. She is a member of the 15th Night Youth Action Council and advises city leaders and advocates on what it means to be young and homeless in Lane County. (Fade out with baby Phoebe cooing to her mom, Makayla.)

For more information on Lane County agencies helping to protect and assist homeless kids:

http://www.hoseayouth.org/drop-in-center/

https://www.lookingglass.us/new-roads

https://www.15thnight.org/

NEXT, WE’LL HEAR THE FINAL PART OF OUR SERIES, “HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT.” KLCC’S TIFFANY ECKERT SHARES THE STORY OF A EUGENE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT-- WHO HAD TO COUCH SURF AS AN “UNACCOMPANIED YOUTH” –-UNTIL COMMUNITY ADVOCATES FOUND HER A HOME.

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