It’s a simple idea: To end LGBT youth homelessness, we need to know a thing or two about the young people we’re trying to reach. Demographic information like age, location, sexual orientation, gender identity and more is vital to ensure that youth services are not only safe, but set up to meet the actual needs of young people. If our work isn’t informed by the actual experiences of young people themselves, then how can we expect our efforts to be successful? There’s no doubt that, to end LGBT youth homelessness, we need a coordinated and informed strategy.
Enter Point in Time (PIT) counts. PIT counts are mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and are intended to provide a 24-hour snapshot of a county’s homeless population. One of the challenges communities often face in conducting PIT counts is finding youth to count! Many young people are good at hiding the fact that they are experiencing homelessness, and may not self-identify as homeless. They often couch surf, sleep in their cars, and might not access shelters. One way to reach this population is by hosting an event to bring young people to you! This year, the Oasis Center in Nashville hosted a “slumber party” during the night of their PIT count! Throughout the night, young people experiencing homelessness could come in, be counted, spend the night, receive medical care, clothing, food, and participate in activities like a talent show and karaoke! 2016 40 of the Forty honoree Kalwin Perrin is featured in the article!
One of the awesome things about PIT counts is that anyone can get involved! We put together a Youth Count Toolkit to help your community conduct its own count!