This is the question nationwide homeless shelters, nonprofits, government programs and other agencies asked to get a one night snapshot of how many homeless children, youth and adults are in Utah and across the nation.
As part of the 2011 Homeless Point In Time Count, Youth Services joined forces with homeless shelters across the nation counting everyone who slept in their beds that night; volunteers canvassing homeless camps and gathering areas to determine who slept in abandoned buildings, cars, camping grounds or other outdoor settings. We did our part by surveying youth and families we served through our free counseling, Homeless Youth Walk-in and our Juvenile Receiving Center services.
Getting an accurate count of homeless youth can be very difficult. Homeless youth can often be overlooked. They don’t stay in the same areas as homeless adults and they usually don’t want to be found. They also might not consider themselves homeless if they are couch surfing at a friend or relatives home. So why is it important to count them?
- Determine the size and scope of the homeless problem at the local level
- Plan services and programs appropriately to address local needs
- Measure progress in addressing homelessness
- Measure performance of individual programs and the system as a whole
- Inform policymakers, program administrators and the public of the homeless needs and issues
- Attract resources by spreading information about the needs and issues
Here’s what the National Alliance to End Homelessness said about including homeless youth in the point in time count:
If homeless youth are not included in local point-in-time counts, their needs could be under-represented as governments, nonprofits, and key stakeholders at the federal, state, and local level plan to respond to the problem.
Our goal is that by participating, Youth Services will help advocate for homeless youth funded programs and help paint a picture of the needs that exist. We will keep you posted when the data will be published.
Statewide Homeless Resources: