Survey casts net to find homeless youth
A combined survey counted 685 youth who were homeless, unstably housed or at risk of homelessness on the night of May 16.
The Count Us In survey, sponsored by United Way of King County and Teen Feed, began in 2011 to show a more complete look at youth homelessness in the area.
Conducted by service providers, the survey found 277 homeless or unstably housed youth in King County.
That survey number was then added to information from the Safe Harbors data collection system, which tracks homeless services. When combined, the survey and collected data determined 685 younth were homeless or unstably housed.
Despite an expanded effort collecting data from more agencies, the survey yielded only a slightly higher number of youth without shelter than in 2011 survey, when 261 youths were found.
Of all youth counted in 2012, 145 were under 18 and 540 were ages 18 to 25. Most stayed in shelters or housing, but 81 minors and young adults were unsheltered.
Teen Feed Executive Director Megan Gibbard said data from Safe Harbors was used to enhance the count.
“We threw a wide net because we knew all youth were not going to line up under a sign that said ‘homeless,’” she said.
The survey will evolve, Gibbard said, collecting data from more locations and learning from each year’s efforts.
The unsheltered data is consistent with efforts of the Seattle/King County Coalition, which counts unsheltered minors every year. By offering an overnight shelter in January in tandem with the annual One Night Count of unsheltered homeless people, the coalition typically finds between 30 and 40 unsheltered minors.
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