The number of homeless teens is on the rise

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HOUSTON, Texas -- At 18 years old, Lorenzo found himself homeless and living on the streets of Houston.
"I had to sleep over by Metro, the train and stuff. Not a good feeling when you don`t have nowhere to lay your head at." Lorenzo described his first night on the streets.

Lorenzo is just one of a growing number of homeless teens and young adults on the street.

Dr. Diane Santa Maria of the UTHealth School of Nursing explained, "'Youth experience homelessness for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they run away, sometimes they are kicked out of their family situation.

A study by the University of Texas and University of Houston along with UH Downtown, is working to count their numbers, those aged 14-24 who are homeless. One thing they know, the numbers are on the rise. In Houston, an eight percent increase has been seen in recent years.

Dr. Sarah Narendorf of the UH Graduate School of Social Work says the research gives insight to the problem, "Gaining a lot more information about these homeless youth. How they become homeless or in unstable housing situations, and then what do we need to do to sort of provide support and services that are going to be attractive to them and really meet the needs."

At 19, Madison found herself on the streets because of drugs, and at the time, that was the life she chose.
"If drugs are involved, it almost kind of simplifies it I guess, just because I didn`t necessarily need food, I didn`t really want new clothing. If I had money I knew where I was gonna go," said Madison

When Madison gave birth to Harper, that life would no longer do. Madison turned to the star of hope.
"She is somebody I`m concerned about having three meals a day, the proper care for her, clean clothes, diapers is a huge thing. Those were things that I was ok with not having for myself on a regular basis, but it`s not something I`m ok for her to experience."

Other young adults turn to Covenant House, a shelter for teens and young adults in order to find a way out of their desperation.

"It`s kind of pushing me to do things I need to do, to make myself a better person. So it`s really making me go harder," added Lorenzo

Lorenzo and others, has our attention. As the studies continue, they give us hope for homeless youth.

In order to gain more attention for the growing problem, on Thursday, following a candleight vigil and rally, over 60 Houston execs will take part in the Covenant House Sleep Out, in support of the youth and young adults.

For more information about the event, visit the Covenant House website.

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