According to a report released on Wednesday by the Abell Foundation, the number of homeless youth is much higher than previously predicted. The report was formed from data collected by service providers, homeless advocates, the city and the University of Maryland. Over 1,400 young people were either living on the streets, staying with friends or family members on a temporary basis, or in homeless shelters, with a guardian or parent.
Over half of homeless youth surveyed, refused to turn to homeless service providers and living on the street, but instead opted to stay with relatives and friends temporarily. Even though they are classified as homeless, many refuse to describe themselves as such, because they do not want to be pulled into the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. There was also a profound stigma around being homeless, which is often linked to misunderstanding by the general public.
To make matters worse, homeless services is mainly gears toward adults. The report also showed the few youth-centric homeless centers, in Baltimore City, were usually filled to the maximum capacity on any given day.
The Abell Foundation is a nonprofit organization that offers grant investments to workforce, health, education and community development sectors. The nonprofit specifically hired former and current homeless youths to assist in finding and interviewing other homeless youths for this report.
The Abell Foundation report was released just two weeks after HUD’s announcement, which recorded an 8 percent reduction in homelessness in the state of Maryland, with only 279 homeless youths found. HUD’s “point-in-time” surveys are conducted on one night each January, which is insufficient at best. HUD has addressed the insufficiency of its methods and is partnering with U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and U.S. Interagency Council of Homelessness.