Youth homelessness on the rise

Youth homelessness on the rise

Evanston winters are particularly cold, but for those without a home, it can feel even worse.

“If you’re a homeless youth without a family, the only thing you really have to your name is your freedom,” said Michael Nameche, Director of Development for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “If they go to a shelter, they might be institutionalized or sent back to their parents. Because of this, homeless teens usually ‘hide’. Their visibility is difficult to gauge.”

“It’s hard to know the numbers of teen homelessness because technically, some of them ‘live’ somewhere,” said Mary Poole, who works with the Evanston Homeless Task Force. “They tend to double up, meaning they live with friends and other family, or maybe sleep in a garage.”

While homelessness in general is unsafe, for teens, it is even more so. Teens could very well be preyed upon by people who know they need a place to stay. According to the New York Times, “one-third of teens on the street will be approached by a pimp within 48 hours of leaving home”.

Almost 4% of ETHS students are homeless. In fact, an agenda from Evanston’s Homeless Task Force reports that 10% of those who live in the Evanston community are at risk for homelessness.

The Daily Northwestern revealed that in October 2014, the number of homeless teens in District 202 had risen 38% since the time data was collected.

“For a long time, people just treated homelessness as they saw it most visibly: people on the street panhandling, old drunks, a Vietnam vet,” said Nameche. “People think, ‘those poor souls.’ In reality it doesn’t take too much to upset the stability of a family’s life.”

“We’re definitely going in the wrong direction,” said Nameche. “It’s time to reverse the tide.”