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3rd March
written by Catherine An

Yesterday, we talked about how help is long overdue for homeless youth. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: there is not enough information about this very vulnerable, often overlooked population.

In fact, there isn’t even a baseline count; that is, we don’t even really know how many homeless youth there are in the country.

This is why the Alliance is urging communities to include youth in their annual point-in-time counts. All communities are required to regularly conduct counts of their local homeless populations (required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development) and while “youth” is a line item, hardly any communities report youth numbers.

But we need to start counting.

Our own district is starting this year. The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates is conducting a homeless youth survey in mid-March in concert with the George Washington University and the Interagency Council on Homelessness. The effort is meant to gauge how many youth are experiencing homelessness in the District, how youth in the District become homeless, and what the community can provide with services and programs to assist youth out of homelessness and into stable housing conditions.

DC is taking an essential step forward. In order to solve a problem, we must first fully understand it – and conducting this kind of count can increase our knowledge on this important social problem.

How does the youth homelessness situation look like in your community? What steps are being taken to end youth homelessness? Are you available to help DC AYA and their partners conduct a youth count in mid-March? Let us know!

Photo Courtesy of NoneOther.


  1. Josh

    This is a step in the right direction, finding out more information about something is key to understanding any issue. Since the youth are an often overlooked group, it will be a good thing that it becomes more known, and understood.

  2. Rich Hooks Wayman

    Way to step up DC! The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates and George Washington University deserve credit for tackling this issue with thoughtful planning. Youth experiencing homelessness are often a hidden subpopulation that shun traditional adult shetlers and drop-in centers (for fear of further exploitation). I hope that in the count there is thought given to how homeless youth can be reached via the internet. While homeless, many youth still access chat rooms. I would suggest that this year’s count (or future counts) consider ways to have peer/youth volunteers comb through their usual on-line chat rooms and social media to identify youth that may be unstably housed. Many homeless youth are doubled up with family, friends, neighbors, or acquaintances and may not consider themselves to be ‘homeless’ since they do not sleep on the streets. Youth should be simply asked whether they slept in the same place as their parents or guardians – and then asked how long they have been away from home to help frame the discussion. Just wanted to compliment DC on their work and make a few suggestions.

  3. Kelley Coyner

    Will surrounding communities in Virginia and Maryland include youth in there point in time counts?

  4. 09/03/2011

    Thank you to everyone for your support in this! We are very excited about what this survey will yield for our advocacy work in DC and for further counts of homeless and unstably housed youth regionally in the future.

    @Kelley- DCAYA is a local advocacy organization that focuses specifically on youth in the District. We would love to hear about regional efforts being made to account for this population, but unfortunately as this is our first year executing this study we decided to stick within DC’s city limits for our count.

  5. @Rich I totally agree! The effort to include youth voice in the entire planning process is exactly what I’m working on academically and professionally. I will definitely be incorporating your suggestions in my research & planning!

  6. I agree, Rich! Including youth voice in the entire strategic planning process is exactly what I’m working on academically and professionally. I will definitely be incorporating your suggestions in my research & other work!

  7. Andre

    I met with Maggie Riden of DCAYA about the survey that was completed. A lot of partnerships were formed and quite a few youth were reached with their efforts. The information that they find from the results of the survey will be incredible to inform policy and practice – and advocate for housing for youth. I hope others can do similar things in their community.