Learn more about the issues facing the young people we serve.

Understanding the Scope of Youth Homelessness in America – National Network for Youth

Scope of Youth Homelessness in America

Written by |March 11, 2019

Recent Poll Reveals Disparity Between Wanting to Help Homeless Youths and Understanding the Scope of Youth Homelessness in America

The National Network for Youth believes in the importance of tapping into key data that will help drive the mission to end youth homelessness forward. This past February, we partnered with Ipsos, a global market research and consulting firm, to poll 1,005 adults above the age of 18 on youth homelessness issues.

Ninety-one percent of polled Americans believe dealing with the problem of youth homeless is important. Eighty-eight percent agreed the success of young Americans has a direct impact on the success of their communities. While most participants agreed youth homelessness should be addressed, many did not understand the full size and scope of the issue.

The poll asked Americans how many of the 35 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 in the United States they believe experience homelessness in a given year. Twenty-six percent responded “Don’t Know” and 23 percent believed that less than 2 million young adults experience homelessness. However, of the 35 million young adults in the United States, around 3.5 million young adults (or 10%) experience some form of homelessness in a given year.

Twenty-six percent of participants also answered “Don’t Know” to how many of the 21 million Americans youths between the ages 13 and 17 experience homelessness in a year. Twenty-four percent responded correctly that between 500,000 and 1 million youths experience homelessness.

Ipsos Support Government FundingFurther questions overwhelmingly revealed that approximately 80 percent of those polled believe the federal and state governments should prioritize reducing youth homelessness. About 80 percent also agreed that federal and state governments should prioritizing the funding for programs that help young homeless people finish high school and find a job.

Over three quarters (79 percent) of polled Americans agreed that young people who can find food and shelter by couch surfing should still be allowed to use public services providing food and shelter.

Though Americans have expressed concern and the desire for the government to address youth who experience homelessness, current federal definitions of youth homelessness are limited.

Of the eight definitions of homelessness used by federal agencies and programs, all but one use criteria that are appropriate for and reflective of the experiences of young people experiencing homeless. Those programs are ones administered by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Justice and Agriculture. These definitions focus on the safety of the youth’s living situation, rather than its location or duration.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) uses a more narrow definition that focuses on the way single adults, not youth or families, experience homelessness. This definition is also used by the federal government to inform the total number of young people considered to be homeless. Many youth stay temporarily with others or in motels rather than sleeping on the street. HUD’s current definition of homelessness deems these youth to be “at lower risk” and therefore not considered to be a priority.

Ipsos 91% ImportantThis restrictive definition of homelessness and youth homelessness results in undercounting the number of youths who are homeless, and influences the perceived prevalence of homelessness. When definitions and prioritizations based on definitions are limited, we lose the opportunity to prevent youth who may be facing homelessness for the first time from becoming the next generation of chronically homeless adults.

Last year Congress considered, and advanced out of committee, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which would ensure that anyone considered homeless by any federal program is eligible to be assessed for HUD services, and ensures that HUD’s assessment of the number of homeless individuals reflect all forms of homelessness. Congress has continued to support funding for a wide range of programs to prevent and respond to young and young adult homelessness, but more resources are needed to address the scope of the challenge.

 

The National Network for Youth has been a public education and policy advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of youth homelessness in America. NN4Y mobilizes over 300 members and affiliates –organizations that work on the front lines every day to provide prevention services and respond to runaways and youth experiencing homelessness and human trafficking.

Youth Outreach Program Spotlight – Kyra Crockett Hodge

YOP Infographic 1024x800

1. What is the purpose of the Youth Outreach Program?

The purpose of YOP is to help young people who are disconnected and struggling with obstacles that are keeping them from achieving their personal goals to become self-sufficient.

2. What’s up at the YOP Shop?

The YOP SHOP is a resource hub located at 893 East 11th Avenue. Young people can walk in or call Monday – Friday between the hours of 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. There are five Outreach Specialists there that truly want to see young people succeed. Young people can come in and receive help coming up with a strategy to address whatever issues they are experiencing that have become obstacles for them moving forward with their lives. Basic needs items can also be obtained at shop such as hygiene items or snack items. The main thing I think people walk away with from the Huck House YOP SHOP is a feeling that someone cares about what they have been through and where they will end up.

3. What are the top three things the youth you meet with need?

The majority of young people that YOP encounters are trying to figure out life on their own and need help to know where to start or how to get back on track. Most young people are struggling with housing issues, lack of financial stability and help navigating the adult systems that they have little to no experience with.

 

Currently there are a lot of young people who we as a system know are experiencing homelessness but for several reasons do not access adult shelter services.  When this happens, our system lacks the ability to properly account for the number of actual kids that are homeless and it provides barriers for these young people to be eligible for housing options that may be available through the adult system. Maryhaven Outreach Team was solely responsible for certifying all of Franklin County for any homeless person (adult or youth) for years.  Recently, the Youth Outreach Team has been certified to verify homelessness for transitional aged youth and will hopefully be able to contribute to the bigger systems issue of not being able to provide available resources to young people who are literally homeless.

 

Critical Need Alert – A Message from Becky Westerfelt

A message from executive director – Becky Westerfelt

In Central Ohio, we are fortunate to have the leadership of The Columbus Foundation when it comes to research and resources to address the critical needs of our community. Over the past several months, I have worked with representatives of the Columbus Foundation and other youth serving organizations to find meaningful strategies to help homeless youth and improve early childhood education.

Today, the Columbus Foundation announced a Critical Need Alert. The goal is to raise $1.5 million for “Our Kids” in 45 days to benefit the work of Huck House and five other organizations.

How will Huckleberry House use resources generated by The Columbus Foundation over the next six weeks?

Many youth in our community are unstably housed; they are couch surfing, moving among family members until they are 18, or generally don’t know where they will sleep night to night.  Huckleberry House will expand options for those youth. We will invest in our work to identify young people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness to link them with housing provided by Huckleberry House and other community agencies. Some youth who are successful in independent living could easily fall behind without support. We will help those young people reduce the risk of future homelessness with a few months of rent and light case support.

The spirit of “Our Kids” demands that we invest in all the children in our community. Thank you for your continued support of our important work.

Becky

Homeless Children and Youth Act takes a step closer to becoming law

On July 24, House Bill 1511 passed the Financial Services Committee. It is co-sponsored by Representatives Steve Stivers of Ohio and Dave Loebsack of Iowa. H.R. 1511 would broaden the definition of homelessness, making it easier for organizations like Huckleberry House to serve homeless youth.

“Last year, I was proud to announce the reintroduction of my bill that will more accurately count homeless youth in our communities – including many of those served by the Huckleberry House – an incredible organization who helps youth in Central Ohio who are facing homelessness, abuse, neglect, poverty, and many other issues,” Stivers said this week. “I am excited that this bill has taken one step closer to becoming law by passing the House Financial Services Committee. I will continue working to get this bill signed into law so we can better identify the scope of the youth homelessness, and ultimately dedicate more resources to addressing the issue.”

Read more

In support of families

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 8.15.04 AMThe following letter was submitted to the Columbus Dispatch earlier this week. While policy has been reversed, the message is still relevant and significant.

Dear Editor,

For the past 15 years, I have been the Executive Director of Huckleberry House.  Huckleberry House provides services including shelter and transitional living housing to homeless and runaway youth.  During my time here I have learned this about children in shelters:  no matter how great your shelter is, and Huck House is a great shelter, children want and need their families.

In every other aspect of our country’s policies and values, we affirm that families are the best way to care for children.  We do this because we know that children need the love, guidance and support of committed adults if they are to thrive as adults.  We also know that when a family can’t care for their children, the best second option is a foster family.  Yes, it is true that families aren’t always perfect, but they are the best option for raising children.

We must remain vigilant in upholding a commitment to families.

If we think there will be no lingering affects to these children, we are lying to ourselves. Even a cursory review of research and training for foster and adoption programs reveals that we know a great deal about what happens to children in both the short and long run.  We know that the grief is deep and profound, we know that separation can affect the cognitive and social development of children, and we know that childhood trauma leads to chronic health issues. If you want to read about this for yourself, you can go to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services webpage.

So, please score your political points without harming these children.  Caring for and raising children is a privilege.  We used to know that.

Sincerely,

Becky Westerfelt

Executive Director, Huckleberry House

How does LGBTQ+ affect homeless youth?

By Leslie Scott, LSW

FINAL PRIDE Blog for 61118

With a little help from our friends…

Each year, Huck House is invited by See Kids Dream to help teach young students about how they can make the world a better place. Guess what happens. Yep! These young students go out and make the world a better place! This year, the students at Ohio Avenue Elementary School, with help from their advisers from Crimson Cup Coffee, created this awesome video to spread awareness about Huck House.

 

Ohio Avenue Elementary School was featured on the news (click here to watch) for the help they are giving to Huck House. On an equally inspirational, and more serious, note, their school was the topic of an article in The Atlantic last month: “One Ohio School’s Quest to Rethink Bad Behavior.”

Thank you to the See Kids Dream Club at Ohio Avenue Elementary School for making the world a better place.

 

100 Day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness

youthhomelesness
Last summer and fall, Huckleberry House and six other Columbus agencies participated in A Way Home America’s 100-Day Challenge. The 100-Day Challenge is a project designed to stimulate intense collaboration, innovation, and execution, all in pursuit of a wildly ambitious 100-day goal.

Read more

Supporting a bill that would allow young people to seek housing AND education

On May 17,  in Washington, DC, the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee held a hearing about homlessness. Columbus was well represented at the hearing by Ann Bischoff, CEO of Star House. At the invitation of Congressman Steve Stivers, Huckleberry House executive director Becky Westerfelt submitted a letter of testimony to the hearing. The text of Becky’s letter follows. It focuses on one part of H.R. 1661, the “Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017” that would positively affect Huck House youth:  student occupancy rules. Should the bill become law, youth will no longer have to choose between thriving or merely getting by. Read more

End of school year stress and your teen

88bb83d6d20c2763ab90e3f1e92efd3c--resources-for-teachers-school-s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of the school year can be an overwhelming time for many high school students. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult for many young people to recognize and articulate when they are feeling stressed. Rather than saying “I feel stressed”  your child might say “I have a stomachache” or “I’m not sleeping at night.” Some teens may become irritable, impatient, angry, or even aggressive when they are feeling stressed. Others may become anxious, scared, or panicky. As a parent, paying attention to the signs and symptoms of stress can help you recognize and help your child if he or she is struggling. Read more