Young, alone, and homeless
As numbers rise in state and nation, Boston group seeks to create shelter
By David Abel
Boston Globe Staff / December 9, 2010
...State education officials counted 13,090 homeless students in the last academic year — an 85 percent increase from five years before. Of those, 735 were defined as unaccompanied, out of the custody of their parents or legal guardians. That is more than double the number five years before.
...The rise in the number of homeless youths is traditionally difficult to track, as it is measured largely by reports from schools, shelters, and other social service agencies. Federal officials estimate at least 110,000 youths between 12 and 24 years old live on the nation’s streets.
...“We’re not sure if it’s the pressure from the economy, but we’re seeing a lot more kids where home just isn’t a safe place,’’ Yazwinski said.
...They say adult shelters are the worst possible place for the youths, many of whom have recently left the juvenile detention system, foster care, or fled difficult situations at home.
And young people are often insufficiently street savvy, vulnerable to being mistreated while living in close quarters with people who have criminal records, drug problems, or mental illnesses.
...Federal officials at the Interagency Council on Homelessness in Washington said there are only a few shelters nationwide that are exclusively for youths. They said the US Department of Education in the 2008-2009 academic year counted 52,950 unaccompanied homeless youths between ages 12 and 17 — 32,000 more than they counted five years before.
Officials said they are seeking to improve the way they collect statistics on homeless youths, who often lie about their age and live below the government’s radar by staying with friends or living on the streets.
“Our greatest challenge has been the general lack of awareness of youth homelessness, because they try to stay underground because of their legal status,’’ said Barbara Poppe, the agency’s director, noting many are younger than 18. “The unreliable statistics makes it harder for us to understand the extent of the problem.’’
Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington, said she thinks the numbers are considerably understated and that the country needs to do more to address the issue.
“Every indication I have is that our response to the problem is completely insufficient,’’ she said. “We have many more homeless youth than we have help to give them.’’ FULL STORY
Meanwhile, every day, CPS is creating thousands more Legal Orphans to kick out on the street.