CHARLOTTE, N.C. — "I never really had attention a lot of attention from my parents."

At the age of 16, Armoni Ford was placed in foster care. He said he grew up with abuse at the hands of his stepdad.

"We started having holes in the walls," he said. "I'm the one getting punched."

Now with the help of his social worker, Ford is living at Elon Homes in Charlotte. 

"The objective is to help them be prepared to live independently," said April Rainer, director of residential programs.

Elon provides a home and family from infant to 18-years-old.

"We also provide transitional living to support young adults ages 18-21 who are aging out of foster care," Rainer said. 

Ford, now 19-years-old, said Elon has become a family to him.

"One of the staff, before she left there, I was calling her Mom. I think her name in my phone is Momma Anita," he said. "It's been amazing. They inspire me every day.

Rainer said residents like Ford have to work at least 80 hours a month or be enrolled in school.

"If anyone knows of a young adult male or female that has aged out of care and is between the ages of 18 and 20 and need a safe place to stay, then this is a great place to refer them to," she said.

"Unfortunately, many of them would be homeless. Some have come to us homeless," she added.

The goal is to reduce the rate of homelessness and incarceration. 

"We want to instill hope in them. We want to rally behind them and give them all the inspiration and motivation and support so that they understand despite their circumstance, they can be anything they want to be," Rainer said.

"They can do anything they want to do as long as they have perseverance, work hard and are determined to succeed. We are here to assist them every step of the way," she added.


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