[Hpn] Homeless Youth in Minnesota - many can't go home / SURVEY link (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sun, 14 Oct 2001 18:31:09 -0700 (PDT)

Homeless in Minnesota - 2000 survey
CONTACT Cynthia Boyd <CBoyd@PioneerPress.com> or (651) 228-2116

FWD  St. Paul (Minnesota USA) Pioneer Press - Thursday, October 11, 2001

     MINNESOTA It's not easy for kids on the street to go home

     BY CYNTHIA BOYD Pioneer Press

 At the mall, in classrooms and on the streets around the state, homeless
young people may look no different from any other youths. But what is
clear, according to a report issued today by the Wilder Research Center, is
that for some, going home is seldom the answer.

 Who these youngsters are and why they are on their own with no
accompanying adult or permanent home is detailed in the 427-page report
drawing on 209 interviews with homeless youth from across Minnesota. The
youth interviews are part of the statewide survey of homeless people Wilder
conducted in October 2000, and has carried out every three years since

 Youth 17 and younger were interviewed with the help of youth service
providers throughout the state. The average interviewee was a 15-year-old
who began living on his or her own at age 13. Seventy-one percent had been
homeless for at least a month. About one-fourth of them had not had a
"regular'' place to live for more than a year.

 "Not long ago these youth might have been thought of simply as runaways
and the solution was for them to just go home. It's rarely that simple,''
said report researcher Greg Owen. "This population has a high a
representation of damaged kids from damaged environments,'' he said.

 The youths say they cannot go home because an adult in the home will not
allow it, there are chemical dependency problems in the home, there is
neglect, there is physical or sexual abuse, or there is not room for them
there. Many have lived in foster care, a detention or treatment center.

 The report says that compared to the general Minnesota youth population,
these homeless kids were:

 -- Five times more likely to have been treated for drug or alcohol problems.

 -- Three to four times more likely to have been physically or sexually

 -- Three times more likely to use cigarettes or other tobacco.

 -- Two to three times more likely to have lived in a single-parent home.

 -- About twice as likely to have attempted suicide.

 -- Among girls, 13 times more likely to have been pregnant.

 Youth of color are three to four times more prevalent among the homeless
than among the general youth population. One of eight of those interviewed
said they had traded sex for shelter, food, clothing or other necessities.

 "It's hard to estimate the number of homeless youths. Youth, frankly, are
more elusive,'' Owen said, but survey research, youth service providers and
shelter providers estimate there are about 660 homeless, unaccompanied
youth on any particular night in Minnesota. Over a year's time, an
estimated 10,000 young people have at least one "episode of homelessness,''
according to the report.

 Among service providers is StreetWorks, a Minneapolis program that
provides services and anything from food, to socks, to condoms, a bus token
or a free phone call, to homeless youth 365 days a year. It's a
collaborative of 12 agencies in Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

 Rich Wayman, who heads StreetWorks, helped with the survey and agrees
numbers are hard to pin down. "Most youth who are homeless do not admit
they are homeless because in our society homelessness is a shameful
position,'' even though these kids are seldom to blame for their situation,
he said.

 Wayman calls these kids "some of the most vulnerable people in our
society,'' and he cites research indicating that within the first 48 hours
on the street, the homeless young are approached by pimps, drug dealers and
adults trying to exploit them for sexual reasons.

 Cynthia Boyd can be reached at <CBoyd@PioneerPress.com> or (651) 228-2116.

 Online: Wilder Research Center's Report on "Homeless Youth in Minnesota,
Statewide Survey of People Without Permanent Shelter'' is available at

2001 St. Paul Pioneer Press. All Rights Reserved.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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