For many, homelessness is defined by what is seen on the streets – individual adults struggling with mental illness and/or long-term substance abuse and panhandlers.
While these individuals are very visible, there are millions of invisible homeless people who stay in cars, in hotels, on other people’s couches or floors, and in other arrangements.
Families, children, and youth are among the most invisible homeless people. These populations seldom make it in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Point In Time Count. When they do, they are significantly undercounted.
While HUD has prioritized single adults as the target for its funding, a growing group of providers, individuals, and communities understand that one size does not fit all. Families, youth and children all have very different needs than individual chronically homeless adults. For one, keeping families together and providing services that treat the various generations at once is a major difference. Moreover, families present a tremendous opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through education and services that treat homelessness upstream. By helping parents and children early, instead of waiting until families disintegrate, children are lost to Child Protective Services, and challenges become even greater and costlier to address, we can permanently solve homelessness.
If you are an agency serving homeless children, families or youth and would like to join the NCHS, contact us for more information.