Teens Living On The Streets Of Omaha

By: Lauren Squires Email
By: Lauren Squires Email

On any given day in Omaha there are hundreds of teenagers living on the streets, left to survive on their own.

Vehicles drive over the 16th Street overpass downtown, but take one look underneath. You drive over this bridge and you don't realize that somebody below your tires is sleeping in a camp of sorts. “I was up here once, that's the only reason I knew about it.”

Nineteen-year-old Tiphanie Faulkner knows about "the bridge" because she was homeless for a year. “It's hard to be on the streets and not have anything."

Faulkner's parents have been out of the picture since she was 7. Just last year she was dropped from the system. “Then I was on the streets so I slept in an abandoned apartment. I was in the Siena/Francis homeless shelter.”

Not having anything can make a teen desperate, turning to sex trafficking. “They'll do it to get that hot meal, to get that nice warm bed to sleep in, a roof over their head for maybe a week or something like that.”

It's something Faulkner never gave in to, but her peers have. “If I didn't have outreach of the YES program, that would have been my last option.” The YES program is Youth Emergency Services.

Shawn Miller is the outreach coordinator and has served more than 700 teens. “They are in survival mode when they are on the streets.” At the outreach center there’s a food and clothing pantry. “They face a lot of stuff that no one would ever really think.”

Back at "the bridge,” Faulkner hopes her story raises awareness about a problem many people drive over every day. “At least 30 people could fit up there, if not more."

Monday night on Channel 6 News at 6, Faulkner takes us to the Gene Leahy Mall, to the spot where Youth Emergency Services does its outreach.

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