In 2015, Dr. Eric R. Wright, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Health at Georgia State University School of Public Health, organized a survey of homeless youth in Atlanta. Earlier the same year, the city had performed a one-night survey, which determined there were 585 homeless people under the age of 24. But providers in the area disagreed.
“Providers were distressed by the number of homeless LGBT youth who needed services,” says Dr. Wright. “I volunteered to try to get a more accurate count.”
He dispatched dozens of students and graduate assistants to canvass the city and five core metro counties — Fulton, Cobb, Clayton, Dekalb and Gwinnett — over three months. The resulting Atlanta Youth Count and Needs Assessment estimated the number of homeless youth in the metro area to be more than 3,300.
Three years later, Dr. Wright repeated the count, this time with a grant from the National Institute of Justice. Last fall, the student canvassers, led by project manager and sociology doctoral student Ms. Ana LaBoy, completed a field count of homeless individuals between the ages of 14 and 25. They also administered a 100-question survey covering topics ranging from housing history to sex and labor trafficking.
(Participants were anonymous and received a $10 gift card for completing the survey.)
Although the city of Atlanta has reported the overall homeless population is dropping, Dr. Wright says his research shows the number of homeless youth has remained relatively stable. The 2018 count estimates there are 3,372 youth who are homeless (either on the street or in shelters) or precariously housed (staying in a motel, for instance, or couch surfing).Friday Letter Submission, Publish on November 01