Survey On Ada County Youth Homelessness Shows Underserved Community

Oct 25, 2017

Boise State researcher Vanessa Fry has done a lot of work on the issue chronic homelessness among adults. Fry’s research helped lead the City of Boise to launch its “housing first” initiative – a 41-unit building that will offer medical and social services to residents in 2018.

So she was the go-to researcher to conduct a headcount of unaccompanied young people experiencing homelessness. The project is in collaboration with a group from the University of Chicago which led the nationwide analysis.  Fry says one of the things she learned is that youth on their own out in the streets face different challenges than homeless adults.

“And because we don’t have programs that specifically focus on these unaccompanied youth," she says, "we really need to think about what are the interventions they need that we’re not able to provide because we haven’t been thinking about them as a different population.”

Only 68 homeless youth ages 13-25 were surveyed, which Fry says is not an accurate number. She says the survey occurred in June of 2016, meaning they missed out on opportunities to count the number of youth in schools who are struggling to be sheltered each night.

The researcher says the goal is to start a county-wide conversation about the unique hurdles this population faces and how to best help them. 

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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