Our Center & Nevada Youth Empowerment Project Coordinate
the Homeless Youth Point In Time Count
Reno, like other communities in the U.S., has many members of its population experiencing homelessness. Each year a point in time count is conducted to attempt to capture the number of people who are experiencing homelessness at that given time.
The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates that the count is conducted one night during the last seven days of January. This year, our count will take place on January 29th, 2015.
RAAH (Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless) coordinates the count with the Rural Nevada Continuum of Care and the Clark County Continuum of Care to ensure an unduplicated count.
Point-in-time counts are important because they establish the dimensions of the problem of homelessness and help policymakers and program administrators track progress toward the goal of ending homelessness. Collecting data on homelessness and tracking progress can inform public opinion, increase public awareness, and attract resources that will lead to the eradication of the problem. If homeless youth is not included in local point-in-time counts, their needs could be under-represented as governments, nonprofits, and key stakeholders at the federal, state and local level make their plans to respond to the problem.
The Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless and the Youth Subcommittee coordinate with local businesses and organizations to simultaneously conduct a separate effort targeting homeless youth, ages 18-24 years old, living in Washoe County, during the 24 hours of January 29, 2015. Last year, the local PIT Count surveyed 44 youth reporting as homeless and 66 the previous year.
WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?
Those who work with transition aged youth will most likely tell you that these numbers are inaccurate; they often refer to this population as an “invisible” population. This population does exist and in potentially frightening numbers but has historically been difficult to identify and/or provide clear and accurate data as to how large this population is and what their exact needs are.
WHY ARE UNSUPPORTED AND/OR HOMELESS YOUTH DIFFICULT TO IDENTIFY AND PROVIDE DATA FOR?
There are several factors that make this population difficult to identify and count. This population remains invisible to the eyes of the system. They may have run away or been removed from their residence for reasons beyond their control. They may be living with parents or family with no permanent address, in shelters, cars, or on the streets, “couch surfing”, staying with friends or a combination of all of the above. Youth have a desire to appear “normal” to their peer group. This desire may drive them to withhold the true level of their need. Many of these youth are aware of the foster care system and how it functions and often view these short term living options as a better alternative. Because of this, they choose actively to avoid interaction with agencies or organizations that would be able to provide them with assistance. The first step to assisting this invisible population is making it visible.
WHY MAKE THE EFFORT TO IDENTIFY AND PROVIDE DATA FOR THE UNSUPPORTED AND/OR HOMELESS YOUTH POPULATION?
The State of Nevada:
- ranks 3rd in poverty in the U.S.
- is one of the most expensive states for low-income families.
- holds the highest teen pregnancy and high-school dropout rates in the nation.
- holds the 2nd highest teen unemployment rate in the nation at 35%.
- ranks 45th in the nation for child homelessness with 109,000 children ages 0-17 living in poverty and approximately 10,434 who are homeless and unaccompanied.
- transitions between 400-500 youth annually from dependency systems, with 41% (approximately 184) of those youth reporting that upon transitioning they are unable to cover their basic needs including shelter, food, and clothing. 38 more will report that they lack basic life skills such as cooking, cleaning, education and/or job skills.
Studies have shown that many homeless youth who receive the stability of a place to call home along with the appropriate amount of education, guidance, support and encouragement will often become self-sufficient and contributing members of the community they live in. If homeless, unsupported and transition aged youth remain unidentified and are not provided with education, guidance, and/or support, many of these youth may participate in activities that have negative long term consequences.
WHY MAKE THE EFFORT TO IDENTIFY AND PROVIDE DATA FOR THE UNSUPPORTED AND/OR YOUTH POPULATION NOW?
With the symptoms of homelessness becoming more and more visible in our community and the cost of simply managing this population rising, it is time to start seeking out long-term and sustainable resources. The starting point may be identifying the homeless youth population and determining what they need to transition into adulthood – healthy, independent and self-sufficient. Promoting self-sufficiency through transitional housing, education, life skills training, guidance and support may be the answer.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO START?
According to Housing for All, a 10 year action plan developed to by the City of Reno, in conjunction with other jurisdictions, agencies to address homelessness in Washoe County, “Ending homelessness in our community means we must drastically shift our approach from serving those in crisis to meeting the needs of those at risk before it becomes a crisis. We must change our response from managing the problem to solving it. Ending homelessness will entail providing affordable housing and the necessary supports to succeed.” We believe that unsupported and homeless youth may represent a large number in this “at-risk” group.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
If you are between the ages of 18 and 24, live in the Reno area, and are homeless or have an interest in helping youth between the ages of 18-24 that are homeless, we would like to hear from you, please contact Meredith Tanzer at (775)830.0920 or.
WHO TO CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE POINT IN TIME COUNT?
- Nevada Youth Empowerment Project – Monica DuPea, Executive Director or (775) 240-2195.
- Build Our Center – Meredith Tanzer, Vice President or (775) 830-0920.
- Reno Area Alliance for Homeless – raahnevada@ .
If you are a homeless youth in need of immediate shelter assistance, you can call the following number:
- Community Assistance Center at Record Street (775) 329-4141 (Shelter is not guaranteed. We want to change this!!)
- A list of resources that may be available to you can be found here.