CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Charlotte organization that works with homeless youth is celebrating a milestone this month in helping young adults sustain themselves.
Boakai Kamara doesn't get much down time to just relax and play video games because he works long hours as a cook at a high-end Charlotte restaurant.
The 21-year-old is grateful for his job.
He remembers being homeless after he aged out of the foster care system.
“Sleeping outside. Doing what you got to do to make a living,” Kamara said about his life on the streets.
Then, he found The Relatives, a Charlotte organization that helps teens and young adults with shelter and support.
It starts at the On-Ramp facility, a safe place for youth to get help to become independent.
Kamara said The Relatives gave him the resources to get a job.
Now, he's celebrating one year of living in an apartment, with some financial assistance from the organization's Rapid Rehousing program.
“Learn how to be more responsible. I do know the bills are coming in. So I've gotta do what I gotta do to pay my bills,” Kamara said.
The rapid rehousing program started a year ago after Executive Director Curtis Joe saw many of his clients with nowhere to go at the end of the work day.
(Click PLAY to learn more about Joe's own time in foster care)
“As we're locking up a five o'clock, a lot of our young adults were right outside in our courtyard, and they were completely sleeping out there. We couldn't believe what we saw,” Joe said.
Boakai was the first Rapid Rehousing client.
Joe personally helped him create a budget for his fresh start.
“Boakai epitomizes exactly what we want and what we want to see out of our young adults. He's proof that they can be successful,” Joe said.
So far, 17 young adults are now part of the rapid re-housing program, funded by Hud, the Joey Logano Foundation and Duke Endowment.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.