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Young and homeless in America: Survey says the problem is worsening

By in Press Enterprise on November 22, 2017

By EdSource

By Carolyn Jones, EdSource

More than 4 percent of adolescents and 10 percent of young adults nationwide were living on the street, in cars or shelters, or couch-surfing at some point in the last year, according to a sweeping study by the University of Chicago released last week.

The study, “Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America,” was based on random phone surveys of 26,000 young people ages 13 to 25, and represents one of the most accurate, wide-ranging overviews ever conducted of homeless youth, a group whose numbers have long eluded researchers, educators and social workers, homeless advocates said.

“We just haven’t had definitive numbers like this before,” said Shahera Hyatt, director of the California Homeless Youth Project, a state agency. “It’s fantastic to have this data, but the numbers are staggering. We as a country really have to face the truth about youth homelessness. I hope this report finally spurs us into action.”

Homeless young people are usually counted through their schools, as required by the federal McKinney-Vento Act, or through “point in time” counts, in which case workers count how many people were in shelters or living on the street on a given day. Both counts are considered low because families might be reluctant to answer school surveys truthfully, or because homeless young people tend to drift in and out of homelessness and might not be counted on a specific day, Hyatt said.

The University of Chicago study, which was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and private foundations, included young people in cities, suburban and rural areas in every region of the country, and breaks down the data down by race, education level and sexual orientation. Young adults were defined as those 18 to 25 years old and adolescents were those 13 to 17. The study […]    

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