The Obama administration has pledged to end youth homelessness by 2020. The first step toward making this a reality? Determining how many of those age 24 and younger are currently homeless.
It's not easy to count a hidden population, but we need to know the extent of youth homelessness in order to measure progress toward ending and preventing it. Data collection paints a clearer picture of the characteristics and subgroups of homeless youth to better tailor services that meet their distinct needs.
In early 2013, nine communities across the United States set out to improve their counts of unaccompanied homeless youth through the Youth Count! Initiative, a joint venture of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and Education. While observing their work, the Urban Institute drew out promising practices and potential areas for improvement that might help shape future efforts to combat youth homelessness.