Homeless Youth Who Are Unsheltered and Staying in Shelters
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) coordinates annual Point-In-Time (PIT) Counts to find and document the number of people who are living in unsheltered locations and those living in homeless shelters. Couch-surfing homeless youth are not counted. This count is conducted by local communities. Recently, HUD began including youth in these PIT Counts and currently lack specific methodologies or approaches to locate homeless youth (who often avoid adult shelters and congregate in different community spaces than homeless adults). In fact, 2013 was the first year that HUD attempted to count homeless youth. The collaborative YouthCount! conducted in 2013 was a first effort to develop best practices for counting unaccompanied homeless youth up to 24-years-old through the HUD PIT count.
With appropriate training, resources and requirements, communities will likely become more skilled at counting unsheltered youth and youth staying in homeless shelters during HUD’s Point-in-Time count.
One of the primary challenges to achieving an accurate count of homeless youth through the PIT count is the large proportion of homeless youth that are excluded. Who HUD counts in their annual PIT count excludes a large majority of the homeless youth population, couch-surfers, who are homeless youth. The PIT count only counts youth living in unsheltered locations and those living in shelters.
HUD’s 2013 Point-in-Time Count, which included youth for the first time, counted 46,924 unaccompanied homeless children and youth on a single night in January 2013:
- 6,197 unaccompanied homeless minors (under 18 years old) — 59.3% were unsheltered
- 40,727 unaccompanied homeless youth (18-24 years old) — 48.6% were unsheltered
HUD’s 2014 Point-in-Time Count counted 45,205 unaccompanied homeless children and youth on a single night in January 2014:
- 6,274 unaccompanied homeless minors (under 18 years old) — 59.3% were unsheltered
- 38,931 unaccompanied homeless youth (18-24 years old) — 45.6% were unsheltered
Some communities have conducted youth counts during times of the year that are warmer than January. These counts have counted more homeless youth than were counted in January. Learn more about these communities:
Los Angeles, CA recently conducted both an October and January count in the same year, 2012.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers the only federal grant program dedicated solely to outreaching to and housing homeless youth in America. Since 2008, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) (42 U.S.C. 5601 note) has required a national study on the prevalence, needs and characteristics of homeless youth in America, but U.S. Congress has not yet funded this study.