The final count of Atlanta’s Homeless Youth

A recent survey found that the young homeless population of Atlanta has tripled in the past two years, and the majority are African-American.

Georgia State sociology professor Eric Wright revealed the results of the summer survey of homeless youth aged 14 to 25 in a May 3 press conference at Georgia State.

According to his Atlanta Youth Count survey, Wright found that 3,347 of Atlanta’s youth live on the streets and in and out of homeless shelters.

The study was performed with the help of over 80 volunteers in the summer of 2015 with colleagues from Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Youth Spark and Street Grace.

The volunteers in the count performed two waves of data collection between June and July of 2015. About 50 Georgia State and Emory University students led the count of youth within the city limits of Atlanta and close-in suburbs inside of the Interstate 285 perimeter highway, according to Atlanta Youth Count.

According to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, more than 1,000 homeless youth lived in Georgia cities.

Wright said further reports for the count are forthcoming, as the data is still being analyzed. He also said the city of Atlanta and other city organizations have expressed interest in his results.

“We believe that by collecting this data, we’re going to be in a much better situation to talk about the array of needs that the youth will need,” he said.

Researchers found the vast majority of homeless youth are African-American (71 percent) and male (60.5 percent). A little more than half reported that they were born in Georgia, and just over a quarter identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to the press release.

Wright previously told The Signal the count faced some difficulties before being released, such as the volunteers having to frequent homeless youth hangouts more than once and making sure to blend into the environments they visited.

“When we learned the police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) had started heavily enforcing The Bluff, making the young people move out temporarily, they were easier to find because they moved a lot and they didn’t sleep outside much,” he said.

Almost 32 percent of the homeless youth surveyed are reportedly in school, according to the Atlanta Youth Count.

According to the Atlanta Youth Count, the most common reasons for the homeless youth predicament included financial reasons, job problems, family violence and housing issues.

Leonardo Rodriguez, a Georgia State student, said he has noticed there is a great variety of reasons behind youth homelessness, and that a big part of that population is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Rodriguez first was exposed to the young homeless population through volunteering with Lost-n-Found, a non-profit organization that finds housing for LGBT people up to the age of 25.

“Lost-n-Found shares opportunities and provides resources for the homeless LGBTQ teens and youth,” he said. “There definitely needs to be more acceptance and more opportunity, and as a result, the homeless community will become empowered.”

Wright said he hopes the count will spark community interest and ways to resolve the issue.

“We’re hoping this count will spark a broader community conversation about youth homelessness and how to solve it in the metro Atlanta area,” Wright said.