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September 14, 2011

2011 Baltimore One-Day Homeless Youth Count Tops 640

Results from the 2011 parallel count of homeless and unstably housed youth in Baltimore City identified 640 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 13 and 25 living out on their own, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. In 2009, the parallel count number was 426 homeless young people.

The count was conducted byNan Astone, PhD, associate professor with the Center for Adolescent Health (CAH) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Ross Pologe of the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative (BHYI) and Fellowship of Lights, Inc.

“Part of the increase is certainly due to better methods—specifically, an increase in coverage of participating agencies.  But it is also highly likely that it is due to a real increase in the number of homeless young people in the city who are critically in need of services,” said Astone.

The parallel count of homeless youth took place on January 25, 2011, the same date as the Baltimore Homeless Census Point-In-Time Count, but was not performed in conjunction with this biannual, HUD-mandated count of homeless people in Baltimore City.

Sixteen community agencies and organizations provided data on homeless youth who were either served on January 25, 2011 or were on the caseload of the organization during December 2010 through January 2011. These sources included Baltimore City Public Schools, Department of Social Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, Chesapeake Center for Youth Development, Legal Aid, and Healthcare for the Homeless.

“While the needs of a homeless 13 year old can be far more challenging than those of a young adult, both are extremely vulnerable populations, which are often underserved,” said Astone. “For most, the cause of homelessness is broken families and relationships. Unfortunately, these critical relationships are more likely to break during challenging economic times.” The information from this year’s Homeless Census Count will be used to improve and enhance existing services for homeless persons, as well as to identify gaps in care.  The Center for Adolescent Health will use data from the parallel count to find out just how many youth are on the streets in Baltimore City, since this vulnerable population tends to dwell under the radar and shuns shelters.

Data from the parallel youth count will also support efforts to change state policies that may contribute to young people being unstably housed, such as difficulties in accessing food stamps and lack of recognition and services for relatives and other “informal kin” who may take homeless young people in for short periods of time.

For more information about the Baltimore Homeless Census 2011, go to www.jhsph.edu/adolescenthealth/publications_resources.

Center for Adolescent Health (CAH) is a prevention research center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a network of community members, public health agencies, and researchers. Together with community partners in Baltimore, the CAH conducts research to identify young people’s strengths and needs, and evaluates programs designed to promote adolescent health and well-being.

Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative (BHYI) was created in response to a need for a comprehensive continuum of housing, resources, services and care for Baltimore’s homeless and unstably housed youth and young adults between the ages of 14 and 24. While Baltimore has many valuable resources for the homeless, there are significant gaps, especially for older youth. Very few services are available for youth under 18 and most facilities and programs are not designed to be developmentally appropriate for youth ages 16 to 24. They do not have the capacity to provide significant supplementary service and there are few coordinated linkages among the services to this population. The goal of BHYI is to increase the sustainability and capacity of the community to serve homeless youth.

Media contact for Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or nwoodwri@jhsph.edu.