Youth REACH (Reach out, Engage, Assist and Count to end Homelessness) MD is launching its fourth survey and census of youth and young adults who are on their own and experiencing homelessness and housing instability across the state. The survey helps identify the number of youth experiencing homelessness and seeks to understand both their experiences and the kind of support services they need. State and local agencies and service providers use the information gathered through the survey to develop and improve policies, services, and interventions to better meet the needs of young people, and to focus resources on ending and preventing youth homelessness in Maryland.
Youth REACH MD was one of the country’s first statewide surveys of youth experiencing homelessness. They undertook Maryland’s first-ever survey of youth experiencing homelessness in 2015, identifying almost 1,000 unaccompanied youth and young adults in six participating jurisdictions. With each successive count, more jurisdictions across Maryland have participated, and the strategies employed to accurately identify and survey youth have been refined. Consistent, repeated surveying of youth experiencing homelessness provides federal, state, and local constituencies with an ongoing way to track their progress in meeting the needs of youth and young adults experiencing housing instability.
The findings of Youth REACH MD have been consistent with other initiatives and studies: Youth experiencing homelessness often attend school, earn income, and are resilient and resourceful, finding places to sleep by staying with friends, family, or acquaintances on a short-term basis and moving from place to place, known as couch-surfing.
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