November 16, 2017

National Report On Youth Homelessness Shows High Numbers Compared To Local Report

The Reuben Engagament Center is the only substance-abuse detox center for homeless people in Indianapolis. - Leigh DeNoon

The Reuben Engagament Center is the only substance-abuse detox center for homeless people in Indianapolis.

Leigh DeNoon

In a new report, researchers from the University of Chicago hope to address what they say is a lack of credible data on youth homelessness. One local group says the results could have major implications for Marion County.

The report looked at more than 20 communities, asking young people if they’ve experienced some sort of homelessness in the previous year.

In the 13–17 age range, 1 in 30 said they had, and in the 18–24 age range, it was 1 in 10.

Alan Witchey is director of the Coalition For Homelessness Intervention & Prevention, the local group known as CHIP. CHIP conducted an independent homeless youth count in Marion County this summer.

But Witchey says the national report suggests the numbers they found might be much lower than the actual number of youth who need assistance.

“The problem is much bigger than what we thought it was, and it requires different kind of thinking, different kind of strategies, and we need more resources to address it,” Witchey says.

The disparity comes in part because the national study looked for youth who weren’t seeking help.

Witchey says it's especially important to find homeless youth early, because data shows many of them will become homeless again when they’re adults.

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