Researchers Set Sights on “True Count” of Homeless Youth

The question of how many homeless youth there are in America is a question in search of an answer and determining a “true count” is no easy matter.

Due to lack of consistent definitions and counting methodologies, reports can vary significantly. As reported in Governing, the number of homeless youth generated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and those generated by the Department of Education differ by 45,000 individuals (45,000 vs. 90,000 respectively). Discrepancies in the number of homeless youth has a considerable impact on the implementation of programs targeted to help those in need.

But researchers are setting out to get the numbers straight. An effort through the Chapin Hall, applied research center at the University of Chicago, have raised funds to set a baseline and conduct an extensive count of homeless youth to help gather more accurate information that could help policymakers. More from Governing:

Information on homeless veterans and adults has helped the federal government and its local partners establish realistic reduction goals. Several cities have reduced homelessness among those populations, and some localities, including Houston and Salt Lake City, have claimed victory in eliminating chronic veteran homelessness. But the problem among youths remains a big question mark. “We need a baseline,” says Mary Cunningham, who researches homelessness at the Urban Institute. “We still need a lot more information before we can really progress.”

So researchers at Chapin Hall are rethinking the methodology. Their counts will take place in warmer months. They’ll consider new locations, such as malls and transit stations, and they may include counts during the day and night. They’ll cross-reference data from child welfare agencies, human services departments and school districts. They’ll also conduct in-depth interviews to understand why young people become homeless and what services they need.

For more information read the full article on Governing.

In Maryland it is estimated that 15,000 youth enrolled in Maryland schools are considered homeless. The MACo Winter Conference will include an education session that will touch upon the issue of homeless youth and what state and local partners are doing to help. The session, Maryland’s Disconnected Youth: The Impact of Jails, Jobs, Homelessness and Hunger”, will be held from 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm on Thursday, December 10, 2015.

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 9-11, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge. This year’s conference theme is “Mission: Public Safety.”

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

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