Responding To the Immediate Needs of Our Henry County Children and Youth “In a Heartbeat”
When people hear the word “homeless”, they often think of a man living on the street, some with substance abuse or mental health issues. But that’s just a small part of the story. Family homelessness consists of at least one parent with a child under the age of 18, most commonly a young, single mother with limited education. Homeless families are more likely to live in the shelter, hotels/motels, or doubled up with other families or friends, rather than on the street. Their homelessness tends to be the result of situational poverty created by an event or temporary condition (domestic violence, job loss, divorce, illness, etc.) or generational poverty.
Many homeless youths are also desperately struggling, living doubled up with friends or family, rather than in shelters or on the street, making them difficult to count. They are often referred to as “the hidden homeless.” They are “considered an ‘invisible’ population and are underserved in our community,” said Nicholas Forge, a clinical associate professor in the School of Social Work and clinical field director for the Atlanta Youth Count 2018.
There are many reasons why young people become homeless. Family/relationship breakdowns, mental health, drug and alcohol addiction, housing crisis, inadequate or inappropriate living conditions, and insufficient income are just some of the factors that can lead young people into homelessness. Often, sexual and physical abuse from family members, including parents or guardians, can be major factors leading to a youth homeless.