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.