Homelessness is often characterized as adults living on the streets taking shelter beneath the interwoven overpasses of the city or standing alongside busy intersections begging for money. Yet, children, those under 18 years of age, are generally not associated with the homeless status as they are invisible, not seen by the general public with their homeless counterparts taking up residence in make-shift housing. Nonetheless, there is a large percent of youth who meet the guidelines for being deemed homeless. The website, findyouthinfo.gov, says the U.S Department of Education defines a homeless youth as one whom:
Lacks a fixed, regular, and nighttime residence or an individual who has a primary residence that is a) a supervised or publically operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations; b) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill; or c) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (Runaway and Homeless Youth section. para. 2).
Nationally, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention estimated there are 1,682,900 homeless youth with an average age of 17 (National Coalition of Homeless [NCH], 2007). Accordingly, The Houston Coalition for the Homeless (2013), identified 6,359 adults as being homeless within the Houston Community on January 29, 2013. The daunting task of counting the homeless is a federal mandate (Point in Time [PIT]) that occurs during the last 10 days of January. The goal is to identify the number of veterans, families that include children, as well as, those that are chronically homeless, “someone who has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or who has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years and has a disability” (National Alliance to End Homelessness. para 2). In 2013 project “youth count” was launched in an effort to collect population and demographic data regarding the homeless youth, and Houston was chosen as the pilot city for the project. With cooperation from various organizations, project youth count was able to conduct an interview with 160 youth. The findings were 19% were unsheltered, 54% sheltered, and 28% doubled up with relatives or friends. Additionally, from the data obtained, half were male and black, 11 identified as being transgendered (6 males, 5 females), and 1 in every 5 reported being bisexual or gay. Their education level based upon the data revealed 2 out of 3 were not attending school while 1 in 3 had dropped out of school. The most common reason given by youth to explain their homeless status was they had “aged out” of foster care. Of 83 females project youth surveyed 17 % of were pregnant (Troisi & Grier 2013).
In addition to the survey conducted by Project Youth, data from the 2011...