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Homeless, Not Hopeless

Hailey and her family lost their home last year. The 14-year-old was scared and alone—until she found a group of girls just like her. 

Linda Covello for Scholastic

A REGULAR KID 
Hailey, 14, has grown up in New York City with her mom, younger sisters, and younger brother. Her whole life changed when the family became homeless.

    For most of my life in New York City, I was like any other kid. I loved having sleepovers with my friends. I went to the beach and water park with my mom, three sisters, and brother. And I loved playing clarinet in my school band. 

    So it was a shock in the summer of 2016 when my mom gave us bad news. She sat us down in the living room and said our building was being sold. We had to move out of our apartment. 

My mom wasn’t able to find another home that we could afford. So we had to move to a homeless shelter. I felt so scared—I had no idea what to expect. 

    My mom has a good job. She has always worked hard and planned ahead for our family. I never imagined we could be homeless. 

    For most of my life in New York City, I was like any other kid. I was happy. I had my mom. I had three sisters and a brother. I had sleepovers. I went to the beach. I enjoyed the water park. I played clarinet in my school band. Life was fun.

    In the summer of 2016, I had a shock. My mom gave us bad news. She sat us down. She said our building was being sold. We had to move.

    My mom could not find another home that we could afford. So we had to move to a homeless shelter. I was scared. I did not know what to expect. 

    My mom has a good job. She works hard. She plans ahead. I never thought we could be homeless. 

    For most of my life in New York City, I was like any other kid. I loved having sleepovers with friends. I went to the beach and water park with my mom, my three sisters, and my brother. And I enjoyed playing clarinet in my school band.  

    So it was a shock in the summer of 2016 when my mom gave us bad news. She sat us down in the living room and explained that our building was being sold, and we had to move out of our apartment. 

    My mom wasn’t able to find another home that we could afford, so we had to move to a homeless shelter. I was really scared—I had no idea what to expect. 

    My mom has a good job and has always worked hard and planned ahead for our family. I never imagined we could be homeless. 

A Big Change

    Now, my whole family lives in one room. There are only two queen-size beds and one bathroom. I had to switch schools and move away from my friends. 

    When we first moved into the shelter, I felt sad. There are about 100 other families who live in the shelter too. But there are no spaces where kids can hang out. We stayed in our room all day. 

    It was hard for me to do my homework. I couldn’t concentrate with my family there talking and playing. So I learned to stay up late to do my schoolwork. 

    At first, I was embarrassed about being homeless. I didn’t tell my old friends. People think a homeless person is dirty and living on the street. 

    But that’s not me at all. I’m an honors student. I love to read, listen to Selena Gomez, and watch movies like Finding Dory. And since fifth grade, I’ve loved being a Girl Scout. 

    Now, life is hard. My family lives in one room. There are only two beds. There’s one bathroom. 

    I had to change schools. 

    I had to move away from my friends.

    I felt sad in the shelter at first. There are about 100 other families there. But there’s no place where kids can hang out. We stayed in our room all day.

    Doing homework was hard. My family talked and played around me. I couldn’t concentrate. So I stayed up late. I did homework at night.

    I was embarrassed. I didn’t tell my old friends that I was homeless. People think homeless means dirty. They think homeless people live on the street. 

    But that’s not me. I’m an honors student. I love to read. I listen to Selena Gomez. I watch movies like Finding Dory. And for years, I loved being a Girl Scout.

    Now, my entire family has to live in one room, with only two queen-size beds and one bathroom. I had to switch schools and move away from my friends.

    When we first moved into the shelter, I was really unhappy. There are approximately 100 other families living in the shelter, but there are no spaces where kids can hang out. We stayed in our room all day.

    It was difficult for me to do homework because I couldn’t concentrate with my family there talking and playing—so I got into the habit of staying up late to complete my assignments.

    Initially, I was embarrassed about being homeless, so I didn’t tell my old friends. People imagine a homeless person as dirty and living on the street, but that’s not me at all. I’m an honors student, and I love to read, listen to Selena Gomez, and watch movies like Finding Dory. And since fifth grade, I’ve loved being a Girl Scout.

Troop 6000

    In February, my mom had a great idea. She said, “Let’s start a Girl Scout Troop for the girls in the shelter.” It’s the first troop ever started just for homeless girls. It’s called Troop 6000, and it has changed everything for me. 

    Now, I can talk to other girls who know what it feels like to lose their homes. We talk about missing our old lives and friends. In my troop, we’re like sisters—all 28 of us. I don’t feel scared or nervous or bored anymore.

    Troop 6000 does a lot together. We do things for the community, like helping out at a local church fair.

    Our troop has been a big success. So Girl Scouts is starting more troops for girls in New York City shelters! 

    That makes me feel so proud. Other girls won’t have to feel scared—their troop can help them like mine helped me. 

    In February, my mom had an idea. She said, “Let’s start a Girl Scout troop for the girls in the shelter.” It’s the first troop just for homeless girls. It’s called Troop 6000. It has changed my life. 

    Now, I can talk to other girls who know what it feels like to lose their homes. We talk about missing our old lives. We talk about missing friends. We share our feelings. There are 28 girls in my troop. We’re like sisters. I don’t feel scared anymore. I’m not nervous. I’m not bored.

    Troop 6000 does a lot together. We have fun. We do things for the community, like helping out at a local church fair.

    Our troop has been a success. So Girl Scouts is starting more troops in shelters! 

    That makes me proud. Other girls won’t have to feel scared. Their troop can help them like mine helped me. 

    In February, my mom had a really great idea. She said, “Let’s start a Girl Scout Troop for the girls in the shelter.” When Troop 6000—the first troop ever started just for homeless girls—became a reality, it changed everything for me. 

    Now, I can talk to other girls who understand what it feels like to lose their homes. We talk about missing our old lives and friends. In my troop, we’re like sisters—all 28 of us. I don’t feel scared or nervous or bored anymore.

    Troop 6000 does a lot together. We do things for the community, like helping out at a local church fair.

    Our troop has been a major success, so Girl Scouts is starting more troops for girls in New York City shelters! 

    That makes me feel very proud. Other homeless girls won’t have to feel afraid—their troop can help them the way mine helped me. 

SAM HODGSON/The New York Times/Redux

LIKE SISTERS 
Hailey wears a birthday crown at a Troop 6000 meeting. She says she and her fellow Scouts really understand each other.

Being Grateful

    Now that I’m part of Troop 6000, I don’t feel embarrassed about being homeless. I’ve learned to be grateful. Some people don’t even have a roof over their heads. 

    But I still want to move out of the shelter. My family is trying. I’d like to have my own space for sleepovers—and a place to do my homework without distractions. I’d love to go to school someday to become a fashion designer.

    I’ve realized that everyone faces some kind of challenge. We shouldn’t push others to the side because they’re different. We’re all the same, no matter where we live. •

    Now, I don’t feel embarrassed. I’ve learned to be grateful. I may be homeless. But I have a lot. Some people don’t even have a roof over their heads. 

    Still, I want to leave the shelter. My family is trying. I’d like to have sleepovers again. I want a place to do my homework without distractions. One day, I hope to study fashion design.

    I’ve realized that everyone has tough times. But we shouldn’t push others to the side because they’re different. We’re all the same, no matter where we live. •

    Now that I’m part of Troop 6000, I don’t feel embarrassed about being homeless, and I’ve learned to be grateful. There are people who don’t even have a roof over their heads. 

    However, I still want to leave the shelter. My family is trying. I’d like to have my own space for sleepovers—and a place to do homework without distractions. In the future, I plan to study to become a fashion designer.

    I’ve realized that everyone faces challenges, and we shouldn’t disregard others because they’re different. We’re all the same, no matter where we live. •

ACTIVITY
Cause and Effect

You’ve just read “Homeless, Not Hopeless.” Now it’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

You’ve just read “Homeless, Not Hopeless.” Now it’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

You’ve just read “Homeless, Not Hopeless.” Now it’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

Hailey’s family’s apartment building was being sold.

HINT: Could Hailey’s family stay in their apartment?

Hailey’s family’s apartment building was being sold.

HINT: Could Hailey’s family stay in their apartment?

Hailey’s family’s apartment building was being sold.

HINT: Could Hailey’s family stay in their apartment?

HINT: Where did Hailey and her family go to live?

Hailey had to switch schools and move away from her old friends.

HINT: Where did Hailey and her family go to live?

Hailey had to switch schools and move away from her old friends.

HINT: Where did Hailey and her family go to live?

Hailey had to switch schools and move away from her old friends.

Hailey can’t concentrate in her family’s room at the shelter.

HINT: How does Hailey get her homework done?

Hailey can’t concentrate in her family’s room at the shelter.

HINT: How does Hailey get her homework done?

Hailey can’t concentrate in her family’s room at the shelter.

HINT: How does Hailey get her homework done?

HINT: What did Hailey’s mom do for the girls at their shelter?

Hailey made new friends and feels much happier.

HINT: What did Hailey’s mom do for the girls at their shelter?

Hailey made new friends and feels much happier.

HINT: What did Hailey’s mom do for the girls at their shelter?

Hailey made new friends and feels much happier.

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