Michael wasn’t worried; his 19-year-old friend Peter had a boyfriend in his 50s who took care of Peter’s every need. That boyfriend had an older friend who would take Michael into his home.
Fortunately, Michael’s grandmother—who couldn’t take Michael in because her husband didn’t want a “faggot” living in his home—learned about the “older friend” and phoned Hope House. Thanks to that call, Hope House staff were able to unearth several young men being “cared for” by older men who were trading sex for housing and food.
Michael, like most youth at risk of sexual exploitation, entered Hope House reluctantly. However, through counseling sessions at Hope House with Michael’s case manager and the program manager, which focused on “who has choice,” Michael began to see that his friend Peter, who was homeless when he moved in with his older “boyfriend,” didn’t have many good choices, particularly if was going to complete high school.
Thanks to Hope House, Michael was afforded the time to explore which choices might be right for him. His other grandparents supported him, but they lived in Greater Minnesota, and he wanted to stay in the area with his friends. However, there were no local housing options.
Given these realities and keeping in mind Hope House’s goal of turning young people’s lives around by nurturing self-sufficiency and independence, with family reconciliation and reunification being achieved whenever possible, staff worked with Michael and his supportive grandparents on strengthening the trust between them. Hope House provided family counseling sessions by phone, as well as individual, in-person counseling for Michael.
With the help of these counseling sessions and daily assistance and encouragement from Hope House staff, Michael was able to tap into a newfound sense of self determination and ultimately come to the conclusion that—while it did mean leaving his friends and his high school—moving in with his grandparents was the right choice, as it provided him the support he needed to live a life where he could achieve his goals and continue to make healthy choices.
Hope House in an emergency shelter for homeless youth ages 14 – 19 serving Scott, Carver, and western Hennepin County.