Shocking numbers of homeless youth revealed for Houston

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HOUSTON, TX - Astonishing numbers from Houston’s "Homeless Youth Count 2.0," the survey say the there’s 632 homeless youth in Houston. That's a sharp rise from the 378 indicated from a 2013 Homeless Youth Count.

A recent federal report on homelessness indicates, on any given night, nearly 7,000 people are homeless in Houston. Yet the official count of homeless youth is listed between 268 and 3,000. The large discrepancy impacts policy and programs for the homeless youth population.

“YouthCount 2.0” took place in October and November of 2014 using innovative counting and survey methods. Specially trained outreach teams conducted the count and survey through shelters, transitional housing programs, special events serving homeless youth, and so-called “hot spots” where homeless youth are known to gather.

“Homelessness looks different in young people. They don’t live on the streets the way older homeless populations do,” Sarah Narendorf, assistant professor in the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) said. “We need good data to understand this population of youth who have experienced trauma, a lack of family support and education. We want to know how they came to be homeless and how we can best intervene now and prevent this condition in the future.”

Narendorf says their study has helped to understand how to count homeless youth and may have implications for counting youth in other large, urban cities.

The “YouthCount 2.0!” project was made possible by a grant from the Greater Houston Community Foundation-Greater Houston Fund to End Homelessness and involved agencies and volunteers from the GCSW, the UTHealth School of Nursing and others across Harris County.