Jesse (name changed to protect his identity) is 21 years old and has been living in a Hope Street residential unit for the past three years, after becoming homeless at the age of 16 when his family kicked him out.
"I failed year 11 because I got diagnosed with diabetes that year and before the diagnosis I kept falling asleep in class – I just couldn't keep my eyes open. I ended up in hospital for a month. When I got out I tried my hardest to get back into schooling and to do well, but I ended up failing. My parents, they didn't like that."
Jesse's parents enrolled him in another school where he was forced to wear dresses and skirts despite his identity as a transgender male. "I couldn't bring myself to do that. I know education means a lot, but to me being able to be myself meant much more," he says.
At that point he was kicked out of home and spent the next two years' couch-surfing at extended family and friends' houses. He was sleeping in the school that his then girlfriend attended when the teachers discovered him. They allowed him to sleep in an empty classroom and connected him into homelessness services, which led him to Hope Street Youth and Family Services.
Within two weeks of connecting with Hope Street, Jesse was moved in to one of the residential units. The site accommodates young people aged 16 to 25 years who are experiencing homelessness. They live independently in their own units and receive case management, counselling and life skills training.