A study released this month explores homelessness among youths in Connecticut. The report, called “Invisible No More,” was co-authored by two researchers, Derrick Gordon and Bronwyn Hunter, of The Consultation Center at Yale University School of Medicine. They found that homeless youths are a virtually invisible population in the state, often not connected to services that could help steer them away from the risks of poverty, crime, and addiction.
Youths who are particularly vulnerable are LGBT, young people who have been involved in trafficking, and youths who are or have been involved with the juvenile justice or child welfare system. More than one third of Connecticut's homeless youths are Latinos, which some experts say is a disproportionate representation of Latinos in the state.
An event in Hartford in tandem with the study's release included young people from Connecticut who are or have been homeless. Jessica Ferreira, 18, of New Britain, said that her mental health issues led to problems living with her parents, and then to living in a homeless shelter. Eventually, she was able to get behavioral health support to return home to her parents.
The authors of the study call for the creation of a task force to focus on housing insecurity for young people, and said it should include the voices of these young people as new approaches are developed to address their needs.
Other recommendations, summarized by the Partnership for Strong Communities:
- Create a planning task force to develop and recommend strategies to address housing insecurity for young people.
- Develop strategies to improve the point-in-time-count of the number of housing insecure young people by increasing collaboration across Connecticut state systems and non-profit organizations. and expanding the methodology used in gathering data and outreach to capture these young people
- Include the voices of all young people in the review, development, and approaches developed to address their housing needs.
- Build on best practice experiences of other states.
- Increase the supervision and training at the Connecticut state and local provider level to help providers identify and work with housing insecure young people.
- Ensure that service systems address the unique needs of LGBT young people.