PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Where do kids go after they age out of foster care?
It's a bleak reality often not in the spotlight, and in Arizona, advocates for these young adults say it's a crisis.
"When was the last time you actually feel like you had your own home? Your home?" asked reporter Briana Whitney.
"Um, about when I was 13," nodded Jose Jimenez-Lobo.
Jimenez-Lobo is now 23 years old.
His life has been a roller coaster for nearly a decade.
It started when Jimenez-Lobo's family immigrated from Honduras. Shortly after, he was placed into foster care at age 14, separated from his mom and siblings, and put in a group home.
"At that time, it was 18 kids, so you know, it was a lot," Jimenez-Lobo said.
At one point, he was taken in by a family, and was only with them for about a year, though able to eventually graduate from Desert Ridge High School.
Graduation meant everything to him, and he thought his life was about to start.
"I ended up back in Phoenix, and I was living with a friend for a little bit, and then from there it went all downhill," he said. "I was homeless, and I didn't have any place to go."
"There's a church on 19th and Cactus, and I was able, me and a friend were able to put a cardboard box on the floor, and we were able to lay down there," he said.
"So that became your bed?" asked Whitney.
"Yes," he nodded.
Jimenez-Lobo said the problem was once he aged out of the foster care system, there were little resources for help.
He was left completely on his own, without a single cent to his name.
"What drugs did you use?" asked Whitney.
"I used meth and marijuana," Jimenez-Lobo admitted.
He said he used meth for more than one reason.
"On my own, you know, this would help me stay awake, or it's gonna help me not eat that way I don't have to go steal food," he said. "It was the only way that I was able to survive."
After three years on the streets, he got in contact with some of the only advocates he knew for help.
This problem was much bigger than just Jimenez-Lobo.
"I just started helping people on the streets everywhere I went, and they were all kids that had aged out of foster care," Janet Weninger said.
Weninger is a foster care advocate who drives around looking for kids and young adults who are homeless.
She started taking in kids to live with her and her family, including Jimenez-Lobo.
"You just want them to be comfortable and feel like they're wanted," she said.
According to Child Crisis Arizona, of kids who age out of the foster care system, one in five will be homeless within a year, one in four will be incarcerated in two years, and 50% will be unemployed by age 24.
"We believe we're the only organization that does what we do, in the way that we do it," said Kris Jacober.
Jacober is with Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation and is trying to play a role in changing this.
"Over the course of this year, we'll serve 250 kids," she said.
She runs a program called Keys to Success, where they serve kids 16 to 24 years old who are coming out of foster care.
"We go right to the kids one-on-one with career development services and with employment services," Jacober said.
She said they're seeing a lot of success, but also seeing one big problem. These kids need a roof over their head to even be able to use these skills.
"You can't educate a youth and help them move toward their future if they're homeless," she said.
Jacober said the federal government is working toward eliminating group homes to build more independent-living residences for these kids aging out of foster care but said there is no timeline on when that will happen.
But Jimenez-Lobo's story doesn't have a happy ending yet, so he focuses on the one thing he can control.
"Nobody can stop you from working on yourself," he said.
The lease is uponthe home he's staying in, and he's offto live withanother family he hardly knows.
But Jose hopes this new chapter in his story will be something different.