Homeless youth are a vulnerable and often invisible population in our community, and conflicting definitions across federal agencies make it difficult to correctly identify the size of the population. Youth Count 2.0! is a community-generated project led by the University of Houston in partnership with the Homeless Youth Network, and funded by the Houston Community Foundation to count youth who were both literally homeless and in an unstable housing situation in Harris County.
Sarah Narendorf, assistant professor in the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) and a principal investigator in ‘YouthCount 2.0!’ will present findings of the 2014 count of homeless youth in Houston and Harris County. The presentation takes place from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 13 at the Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults, 2525 Murworth Drive.
“YouthCount 2.0” took place in October and November of 2014 using innovative counting and survey methods to secure an accurate count. Specially trained outreach teams conducted the count in shelters, transitional housing programs, street churches, vacant apartments and so-called “hot spots” where homeless youth are known to gather.
This community-based research study identified a total of 632 youth (ages 13-24) living in shelters, on the street or another location not meant for human habitation, or unstably housed (staying with friends or relatives but not sure where they will stay 30 days from now).
How do the results of the Youth Count 2.0! compare to other studies and counts? According to the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County, the 2014 Point-In-Time Homeless Count indicated that on a given night there are approximately 5,351 sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals in Houston, Harris County and Fort Bend County. This same 2014 Point-In-Time count identified 443 unaccompanied youth and children. While the Point-In-Time count does not include any individual who is unstably housed (per the homeless definition given by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), the numbers found in the Point-In-Time and Youth Count 2.0! study are not that different.
“Homelessness looks different in young people. They don’t live on the streets the way older homeless populations do,” Narendorf 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.
WHO: UH Graduate College of Social Work Assistant Professor Sarah Narendorf
UTHealth School of Nursing Assistant Professor Dr. Diane Santa Maria
WHAT: Findings from Houston homeless youth count, ‘YouthCount 2.0!’
WHEN: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 13
WHERE: Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults, 2525 Murworth Drive