During the week of January 25th the Youth Point-In-Time (PIT) Count occurred throughout Connecticut. Journey Home helped coordinate volunteers for this effort in Greater Hartford. The purpose of the Youth PIT Count was to administer a survey with youth to determine the number of youth in the Greater Hartford region who are sleeping outside, in cars, or temporarily staying between friends and family due to not having their own place to stay.

In Hartford alone, over 230 surveys were completed, the most out of any city in the state. Combining these numbers with the other towns in the Greater Hartford region there were over 300 surveys completed. Thank you to all of the volunteers and agencies that participated in administering these surveys with youth and offering space to do these surveys. With the information from these surveys we can learn what services are needed for this particular youth population.

The Youth Count is so important because the impact of homelessness on youth is extensive. With the effect of a youth being homeless for a long period of time leads to increased risk for sexual abuse, being lured into prostitution, physical abuse, criminal justice involvement, illness, suicide, dropping out of school, mental health problems and substance abuse. The effect of youth having unstable housing causes them to be involved in multiple systems such as education, juvenile justice, child welfare and law enforcement, yet there is no one entity that has ongoing responsibility for them. More than half of shelter youth, and two thirds of youth/young adults living on the streets, report having spent time in foster care, inpatient mental health settings, juvenile detention or jail. That is why it is essential to develop a coordinated response to youth/young adults (YYA) experiencing housing instability in Connecticut so that we prevent them from becoming homeless or at least keep episodes’ brief and rare.

Journey Home is working on a new approach to identifying solutions to youth homelessness by creating a system dynamic model. This model is used by stakeholders to plan effective interventions and to use for legislative advocacy, demonstrating to legislators where best to allocate resources and how policy changes will impact the problem and at what cost. One key benefit of using this system is the ability to simulate the dynamics in the model. It can also help stakeholders communicate, garner support from system stakeholders and advocate for policy change.