No one knows just how many youth are homeless in Texas or in the United States. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that there were nearly 200,000 children and youth experiencing homelessness on a given night. The U.S. Department of Justice estimated an even more staggering number in 2002 — that there may be as many as 1.6 million children and youth experiencing homelessness per year in this country. Homeless youth tend to be a hidden and vulnerable population, and they are hard to count. Some have aged out of foster care, others are runaways or were kicked out of their homes, and as many as 40% identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
TNOYS was contracted by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) over the summer to develop a Homeless Youth Survey Tool to be used for a statewide homeless youth count and assessment of these youths’ needs. During the fall, TDHCA contracted with TNOYS to coordinate Youth Count Texas! – a statewide point-in-time count of youth experiencing homelessness. TNOYS is leveraging experts and expertise from within our own staff as well as from our statewide partners Texas Homeless Network and the Texas Homeless Education Office to support local communities and their volunteers in their counts in January and February. This support includes a toolkit of resources for Continuum of Care (CoC) organizations and local homeless coalitions, training and technical assistance, and funding to support magnet events and other youth count best practices.
By collecting critical data, Texas will lead the way in developing services and supports for children and youth who so often have nowhere to turn. TNOYS has been a longtime advocate for youth who are homeless in Texas, and we championed the legislation to make this count happen. We are excited to be able to work with CoCs, providers, school districts, and other local stakeholders to coordinate this effort!
To learn more, see our fact sheet or visit our webpage for the initiative as well as the TDHCA Youth Count Texas! webpage. Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to release resources that are valuable to communities working with youth who are unstably housed, as well as stories from the front lines of this initiative to raise awareness of efforts to end youth homelessness and ensure that the voices of youth are heard.