According to a 2017 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development study, there are an estimated 4.2 million homeless youth living in America.
These are some of the startling statistics that are revealed in filmmaker Rotimi Rainwater’s up and coming documentary film, ‘Lost In America,’ which forces us to come to terms with the fact that America is facing a national homeless youth crisis. “700,000 of those youth are under the age of 18.75 percent of homeless youth get propositioned for sex within the first 48 hours. Hundreds of thousands of youth are trafficked every year and 5000 youth die in America every year,” said Rotimi.
Rotimi, who also experienced homeless in his youth after serving in the army, explained that while he was on the streets, he met a lot of really incredible people and had a lot of experiences that have formed who he is as a human being now. So when he finally got a voice to be able to tell stories make films, he knew he wanted to make films and tell the stories that move people.
He has found it extremely disturbing that there is very little effort being taken to tackle this issue, so he hopes that this film can inspire people to pay more attention and take action.
“Everyone of these youth is asking for help and everyone of these kids were on the street asked for help at home did you get it and we are so disgusted about it as a nation that way we make invisible. We don’t look,” says Rotimi.
Rotimi spent time with 30 different youth in 15 different cities and each one of them had unique stories, but they all share the same thing which was at sometime in their life someone who cared about them or should've cared about them either hurt them or weren’t there for them.
“I say there’s three reasons why you youth are on the streets and that's home doesn't exist anymore, home doesn't want them anymore, or home isn’t safe anymore. Parents die and there's a lot of kids who are homeless with your family because they've lost jobs. Unfortunately so many youth end up on the streets because their parents are addicted to drugs or there's somebody in their family who sexually abusing them, physically abusing them or mentally abusing them.”
Rotimi further explained that 45% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ and have been kicked out of home after coming out to their parents. Many youth when they age out of the foster care system don’t have any place to go.
“So many kids get lost. The reason that everyone in America should care not just about this film for more importantly about this issue is because these are our kids you know if we are in American society, and we take care of our own, then there's no reason the 4.2 million years should be on the streets of America- ever. It's not too late when you see a homeless youth on the street it's not too late but if you wait too long it will be,” concluded Rotimi.