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Youth homelessness in Baltimore higher than previously thought

Stigma, among other factors, can lead youth homelessness to be under-reported.

Homelessness among Baltimore youths is much higher than previously thought, according to an Abell Foundation report released Wednesday.

More than 1,400 young people under the age of 25 were unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, without a safe, stable, affordable place to live, according to data collected by homeless advocates, service providers, the University of Maryland, the city and other stakeholders.

The Youth REACH MD findings in the Abell Foundation report included not only youths living on the streets and in homeless shelters, but also those in unstable living situations — who might be staying for brief periods of time with friends or relatives.

More than half of the city's homeless youth surveyed opted to stay briefly with friends or relatives instead of living on the street or turning to homeless service providers, the report found. Many said they are reluctant to describe themselves as homeless because they fear the stigma and don't want to be involved in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, according to the report.

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What makes our program unique is the fact that we will require all participants to complete high school or a GED program and further their education. Each participant accepted into our program will have a peace of mind knowing that they are able to live in our residential home community for the duration of their time in high school and that we will work along with them as they pursue college or trade school and transition to independent living. Our aim is to help young people set goals for their future and achieve them. Each young person who comes through our program will have a family of support to help them accomplish their goals; we will work as one team, learning and growing together. We take pride in knowing that our future participants will grow into fine adults who become productive members of society.

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