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Aspiring Restaurateur


“When I first realized I was homeless, I was stuck. It was hard for me to swallow my pride and go get help, because I was like, ‘I'm more than a shelter.'”

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"I’m Lanisha. I’m 19, and I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’ve been living in Chicago - it’ll be one year on April 1st."

Can you share some hidden talents and fun facts about yourself?

"A fun fact: I'm the oldest out of six kids on both sides. Hidden talents: I like to cook. I can draw when I put my mind to it, and I can sing and I can dance. I’m multi-talented!."


Original Artwork by Lanisha

What's something you're looking forward to?

“I’m going back to work at the Cubs Stadium. This will be my second year working with them. I'm working at the concession stands, so I prep the food, make sure the window’s staffed, do hot dogs, nachos, and stuff like that.”

Preparing Hot Dogs
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How did your journey with homelessness start?

Did you tell your family when you lost housing?

 “Yeah, my family, my family knows. They don't care, but they know.'"

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Lanisha currently lives in one of the transitional living programs run by Ignite, a nonprofit organization focused on youth homelessness.  

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Can you describe the shelter you stayed in when you first lost your housing?

“I would say living at the shelter was different, because everybody there was older than me and it was people that were old enough to be my uncle or grandma, you know… [For me] Ignite's program is way better than the shelter I was at.”

Roof Shingles

Can you talk about the community within your transitional housing program?

How has the Ignite staff supported your journey?

“My old case manager [at Ignite], Lina, really helped me get where I’m at right now and keep my head on straight. She pushed me to do things, encouraged me, and she was always there as a good support. She always made sure I got my stuff done when it needed to be done. And she was also there as my go-to when I needed somebody to talk to, or when I needed help.”

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What have you found most challenging about experiencing homelessness?

What's an accomplishment from this past year that you're proud of?

“I would say an accomplishment is seeking housing. And getting my dream job, which is at a black-owned restaurant called Peach's. It’s a Southern breakfast-brunch place. Our most popular dish is shrimp and grits, and we are known for our biscuits, too!”


What's something you're looking forward to?

When you become a professional chef, what kind of food would you like to cook?

“I'd say soul food!”

Fried Chicken

What goals do you have for your future?

“ My goal for myself is not to be back in the situation I am now in the future. So I would say, my goal for myself is to keep myself mentally and physically and financially stable, and continue to live on my own, so I don’t come back to the situation I’m in now. Another goal is to finish school and to kick off my career, and yeah.”

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What do you wish more people knew about youth homelessness?

“I wish people would understand that it’s not our fault that we’re homeless. It’s not that we want to be homeless. Because sometimes people treat people who are homeless differently. I wish people understood that everybody is the same, no matter what color, no matter what situation you’re in, everybody’s had their time where they had a bad time in life - where they had to overcome it and grow to be who they are now.”

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What do you wish more people knew about you?


Homelessness affects 17% of survey respondents at two-year higher education institutions and 16% at four-year institutions

(Five Years of Evidence on Campus Basic Needs Insecurity)




An aspiring artist also pursuing their GED



Combat misconceptions about youth homelessness in Chicago.

Take action


Be a part of the solution to youth homelessness.



See more of Lanisha's creative side!

Lanisha_art 1.HEIC
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