Due to the diverse and hidden nature of this population, the accuracy of homeless and unstably housed youth counts largely depend on the collaborative efforts of a wide network of homeless youth shelters and service providers, adult shelters and service providers, and other agencies/or organizations serving youth and families with or without an explicit focus on homelessness. Therefore, the first crucial step of this study will be to develop a comprehensive list of service providers who may have contact with homeless or unstably housed youth and use their expertise in outreach efforts. Additionally, experts in the field suspect that a significant proportion of homeless or unstably housed youth are disconnected from available services. These unsheltered youth are extremely difficult to locate and are often not visibly homeless. Therefore conventional approaches that have been used for the adult PIT count (e.g., observational ‘street’ counts) are not as effective in capturing a true number of youth experiencing homelessness. This study proposes an innovative methodology that has been successfully used in other hard-to-reach populations by integrating population- and Houston/Harris County-specific issues related to the homeless youth counts and survey.
This study will take place in Houston/Harris county, including the greater metropolitan area (e.g. Houston city, the Woodlands, and Sugar Land)-- a population of 4.1 million. Harris County is the largest county in Texas and the third-largest county in the U.S.
Disadvantaged neighborhoods and "hot spots" identified by youth service providers
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