Once a year the Coalition For Homelessness Intervention & Prevention, or CHIP, conducts a point-in-time homeless count. Homeless youth numbers have remained fairly stagnant, but the group says outside evidence indicates youth homelessness is disproportionately on the rise.
CHIP launched a new project this week, called Youth Count Indy, to explore the issue.
Alan Witchey, executive director of CHIP, says young people might be more adept at avoiding their surveys.
"When you focus broadly on the homeless population," Witchey says, "sometimes the youth fall through the cracks."
Witchey says some have speculated the opioid crisis is to blame for increased youth homelessness. Others point to seasonal migration, and others to the disintegration of families.
“What we do know is that we need better data to help us plan better, and to better secure resources, and this is a way to do that,” Witchey says.
To get that data CHIP will visit camps where homeless people live, analyze data from local shelters, and throw social events to draw young people, where they’ll hand out surveys.
The report will be posted online when it’s done. Witchey says CHIP and other groups will use it to build a case for federal funding, expand advocacy efforts and educate the public.
Through all of 2016, CHIP counted more than 12,000 people experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis.