Here are five reasons why your region should consider conducting a youth-focused homeless count...
Youth have specific needs and demographics. They have higher rates of mental health and substance abuse disorders. Additionally, a higher proportion of homeless youth are black or African American, Hispanic, or LGBTQ+.
Youth are more likely to be unsheltered than the general homeless population. This means it can be more difficult for them to connect to community resources that would help them become housed again. The youth count provides one opportunity to connect with these individuals. The data gathered from the count can also help inform programs that effectively connect to youth in the future.
Past experiences of homelessness are the only true predictor of future instances of homelessness. If we can help figure out what youth need to combat homelessness and not become homeless in the first place, we have more chance of preventing a new generation of people from entering homeless shelters in the first place and from becoming chronically homeless in the long run.
There are other federal programs that attempt to address youth homelessness outside of HUD that have different definitions of homelessness. This chart shows how youth homelessness is defined by HUD, the Department of Education, and according to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. Having a more specific understanding of youth homelessness can help communities better utilize the full range of federal resources available to address youth homelessness.
Youth counts provide a voice to homeless youth. This is important for youth empowerment and also to effective program development.
More details on using Counting Us to conduct a youth-homeless count can be found here.