BEAVERTON, Wash. -- For nearly 2,000 Beaverton students, going home after class wasn't an option last year. The district said that many kids had an unstable housing situation.
But now, several groups are coming together to try to help the homeless youth.
Michelle Hampsten moved into her very own apartment last Monday. It's her first home, after nearly a year on her own.
Hampsten said she left home because she was having serious problems with her family. "It was after my 18th birthday, actually. I was on my own. I had nowhere to go," said Hampsten.
She started sleeping on friends' couches, "I was in and out of friends' houses a lot," said Hampsten.
After eight months, a counselor told her about Boys & Girls Aid and its transitional living program.
"It's kind of surreal, to be honest, because it's like, 'I'm standing in my own apartment right now, you know?' It was awesome," she said.
The City of Beaverton partnered with Boys & Girls Aid to help give a permanent home to homeless youth like Hampsten.
"We are dealing with what's called the invisible homeless. These are homeless youth who are couch surfing. They're families who are doubling up in one- or two-bedroom apartments. These are homeless individuals that you just don't see like you do in downtown," explained Ken Cowdery.
Cowdery is the executive director of Home Builders Foundation, which did the work inside the renovated units.
The program houses 13 young people in apartments and duplexes throughout Washington County. Six young men and women will live in the newer facility.
"Granted, it's not an end-all solution, but it is a contributing factor to help get the youth into stable housing and give them the tools they need to succeed," said Andrea Nelson, the project's coordinator with the city of Beaverton.
Each youth is required to have forty productive hours a week whether at school or work or both.
Now Hampsten is learning to balance a budget and cook. "I think the hardest thing right now is probably food, to be honest," she said with a laugh.
And, she said she's grateful she now has a place to call her own.
"When you picture a homeless youth, you picture them in Portland begging on the side of the street with signs and all of that. That's not necessarily the definition of homeless. I think not having a place to call your own is definitely the definition of homelessness," Hampsten said.