In 2014, HUD reported that there were 194,302 children and youth homeless on a given night in the United States. While this number is staggering, HUD recognizes that the real number may be even higher. HUD began counting youth in 1984 as part of the first Point-in-Time (PIT) study. This national effort, the first of it’s kind, prompted communities to host their own counts of homeless persons across the country[i]. Today, HUD requires states to perform a PIT count of homeless persons in January of each year. While these counts have been effective at counting the adult homeless population, they are notorious for underreporting youth, who are often harder than adults to identify and count.
During the 2015 legislative session, House Bill 679 was passed to support a statewide initiative to count homeless youth. The bill tasked the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) to coordinate a study on the number of youth who are homeless in Texas and their needs. In the coming months, communities across Texas will be reaching out to count and survey young people who are homeless or unstably housed. The information collected will allow policymakers and service providers to better understand the needs of youth experiencing housing instability and homelessness in order to better support them.
In the official Youth Count Texas! Toolkit, you will find resources on how you can join us in this initiative and host a youth count in your community. The Toolkit includes surveys, training materials, information on best practices, debriefing materials, and more!
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[i] “Using Data to Understand Homelessness,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, http://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/summer12/highlight2.html