The experience of homelessness for youth differs from that of adults. Consequently, youth are historically undercounted in PiT Counts. For example, youth are often less visible due to the transient nature of their homelessness. Many youth live temporarily with friends or acquaintances - known as couchsurfing - making them largely invisible to the community. Youth are more likely to show fear or mistrust of the homelessness sector; they may actively avoid contact with child welfare, the juvenile justice system, or health and mental health services. Consequently, the standard PiT Count approach may underrepresent the issue of youth homelessness in a given community.
While there is a growing focus on the issue of youth homelessness, an effective response requires accurate data. We must understand the number of youth that are effected by homelessness. We also must know the extent to which certain groups are overrepresented, such as youth who are part of the LGBTQ2 community, pregnant and/or associated with child welfare.
This module will help communities to ensure that youth are represented in the Coordinated Count led by the Homelessness Partnering Strategy. It covers strategies such as: broadening the scope of the PiT Count to include hidden homelessness, holding youth-specific magnet events, liaising with youth service providers and/or schools, engaging LGBTQ2 youth and targeted survey design. All communities, small or large, will have the necessary resources and experience to employ even a few of the suggested strategies.