According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, youth homelessness is on the rise.
Though an official count has not been made since 2005, shelters and hotline data suggests that more and more youth are on the streets. Shelters are overflowing with young people looking for beds, and hotlines are often overwhelmed with calls.
A variety of factors have contributed to the rising numbers; particularly economic factors like unemployment and corresponding familial stress.
Beth Cunningham, a youth attorney for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said shelters she works with turn away children and young adults in increasing and “really disturbing numbers.”
At The Crib, a shelter for 18- to 24-year-olds in the Lakeview neighborhood, 9 p.m. is a stressful time. That’s when the 20 youths who will get beds that night are randomly chosen.
On a recent Monday, Lawrence Herbert, 19, originally from Evanston, lucked out. He’d have a place to sleep that night, but that’s not always the case.
A part-time cashier at an Evanston restaurant, he can’t make it to a shelter in time for check-in on the three nights each week that he works.
“There have been nights when I had to sleep on the train, in the cold, or I would like sleep in a park,” Herbert said.
Herbert said he left home about two months ago after his relationship with his dad had become physically and verbally abusive. Herbert is gay, and he said his dad doesn’t accept that.
“It was unsafe,” Herbert said. “I couldn’t live there.”
The city of Chicago plans to take an official count of homeless youth in the city.
Hopefully this data will provide needed insight so we can effectively deal with this problem.
Thoughts on this disturbing trend?
Where do we begin in combating youth homelessness?
Sound off below!