The Somerville Housing Department is calling on members of the community to help spread the word about this year’s annual survey of youth who do not have a stable place to live. The Youth Count is an effort to gain a clearer understanding of the housing status and story of youth without a stable place to stay on any given night in Somerville and Arlington.
Nationally and locally, information about those experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity falls short of what most providers need to understand youth housing and service needs. Organized counts and surveys seek to address that gap, and their results over the past two years have helped the Massachusetts Legislature to invest a total of $3 million in housing and services for youth and young adults.
To support this effort, the Somerville Housing Department, the Somerville-Arlington Continuum of Care and partners are currently conducting a count and survey of unaccompanied youth 24 years of age and younger experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. Residents who know any youth facing housing instability are asked to please share this information with them and encourage them to participate by May 14. A pizza party will also be held on Wednesday, May 10 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Mystic Activity Center (MAC), 530 Mystic Avenue. All are invited to attend to learn more.
Residents who help direct youth to the online or paper survey will be supporting an intensive direct surveying campaign. Through May 14, emergency shelters, street outreach teams, youth ambassadors and service providers in Somerville and Arlington will be counting unaccompanied youth and young adults. Somerville and Arlington providers are surveying young people known to be unstably housed in areas where youth congregate, drop-in centers, community meal sites and other programs.
Agencies throughout both municipalities have hard copies of the surveys available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Cape Verdean Creole and Khmer. The survey is available online in English and Spanish until May 14 at www.surveymonkey.com/r/massyouth. Community partners assisting with the survey and with hard copies on site include Wayside, the Justice Resource Institute, the Somerville Homeless Coalition, Teen Empowerment, Just-a-Start, Respond, the Welcome Project and the Somerville Public Schools Parent Information Center.
All answers to the survey will remain confidential. Youth and young adults 24 years of age or younger who are not in the physical custody or care of a parent or legal guardian, and who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence will be counted.
The survey is being administered by the Massachusetts Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and the Somerville-Arlington Continuum of Care. Locally, the Commission, the Somerville Department of Housing and Community Development and the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness are partnering with the 16 Continuums of Care (CoC) in Massachusetts to conduct the count and survey.
For more information about the count, please contact Heidi Burbidge at 617-625-6600 x2587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.