Published February 2021
“I have had the privilege of representing children engaged with the justice system and some abandoned to the experience of homelessness for over 20 years myself. I have seen what they need and how critical it is to be able to navigate systems in order to not just survive — but thrive.
My colleagues and I are inspired and humbled to serve, even in this small way, the mission of Appleseed by helping craft a critical tool in the Homeless Youth Handbook. A resource built to be easy to use and apply to real life situations can be a light in the darkness for a young person desperate for empowerment, access to justice and resources, and even just trying to survive.”
The Homeless Youth Handbook is an online know-your-rights resource for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability in Massachusetts. Written in a youth-friendly question-and-answer format, the Handbook provides Massachusetts-specific information and is designed to empower young people to understand their legal rights and take action to overcome the many barriers they may face.
Questions answered in the Handbook chapters include:
- What new rights and responsibilities do I get when I turn 18?
- What are my foster care rights as an LGBTQ+ youth?
- I need medical treatment. Can I get treatment without insurance?
- If I am an unaccompanied homeless youth and receive no financial support from my parents, can I still go to college and receive financial aid?
- What should I do if the police stop me on the street?
When youth and young adults experiencing homelessness can access and exercise their legal rights, they are able to obtain the support they need, navigate daily and long-term challenges, and make informed decisions about their lives to achieve safety, stability, and self-sufficiency.
If there is an important topic or question not yet included in the Handbook that you would like to see covered in future editions, please reach out and let us know.
State-specific Handbooks have been produced in 8 different states, as well as Washington D.C.
Many thanks to the dozens of volunteers and pro bono attorneys from Baker McKenzie, Boston Scientific, and Liberty Mutual who dedicated hundreds of hours to developing this tool, the team at Baker McKenzie for spearheading this project, and the many community partners who provided their expertise. Special thanks to the young people from My Life My Choice and Bridge Over Troubled Waters who gave their time to evaluate chapters, give feedback, and ensure this resource is the best it can be.
Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Liberty Mutual Insurance Expand Youth Homelessness Project
Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice Awarded a 2023 Community Grant Through Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand’s Black Community Commitment
Want to stay informed on the latest issues Massachusetts Appleseed is working on?
Sign up for future action alerts.