Through Their Eyes: Experiencing Homelessness as a Youth


LifeWorks is a member agency of TNOYS that provides homeless youth and young adults with transitional apartment-based living in Austin, Texas. Many of these youth were previously in the foster care system and/or are young parents. The organization’s goal is to build self-sufficiency, with a focus on attaining stable, affordable housing, education, and workforce goals. Each individual has access to a continuum of services that includes counseling, education, and workforce development.

TNOYS is able to support the significant work LifeWorks does for youth and families by offering training, consultation, and opportunities to elevate youth voice in our systems change and advocacy work.

We recently visited LifeWorks’ Sooch Foundation Youth and Family Resource Center in East Austin to meet with youth who are currently or were previously experiencing homelessness. The snapshots below are part of our Youth Count Texas! initiative, a state-wide effort led by TNOYS to better understand and support homeless youth in our state. LifeWorks played a lead role in organizing a count and study of homeless youth in Austin.

Stephanie Perez_Austin_Small Resolution

Stephanie, 23

“When you’re a mother and homeless, everything is a challenge. Transportation, food, child care. You’re uncertain of every decision you make and very aware that what you do today affects your tomorrow.”


Francisco Zuniga_2_Austin_Small Resolution

Francisco, 27

“It’s all about where am I going to sleep, eat, put my stuff, use the restroom, plug in my electronic devices, get out of the heat? It’s very lonely, scary, depressing, and stressful. The more funding that goes to preventing homelessness, the less homelessness we’ll have. We don’t want youth to give up. People need motivation to get off the streets and into housing.”


Renellquiana Blackburn_2_Austin_Small Resolution

Renellquiana, 21

“Being homeless is like being in a forest with no map or food and you have to fend for yourself when you have no idea what to do.”

Lauraanna Garcia_Austin_Small Resolution

Lauraanna, 20

“Being homeless doesn’t feel right, it feels like you don’t belong. I would love for there to be more daycare opportunities so I can finish school and be able to give my child a roof over her head.”

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