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SIRR Paper - Anonymous Homeless Youth PHST 330 SIRR Paper...

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Anonymous Homeless Youth PHST 330 SIRR Paper November 28, 2011
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The past few months I have been volunteering at CHIP Indy – the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention. Most of my time at CHIP has been spent in the office processing paperwork, doing data entry, or making promotional videos. Other times I am out with our program director talking to people about homelessness in Indianapolis. One particular day, I was helping setup a display outside the Landmarks Center downtown. The display consisted of hundreds of cardboard yard signs in the shape of children. In front of the cutouts was a sign reading, “On any given night, 3,000 children are homeless in Indianapolis.” After stepping back and looking at the finished display, two things came to mind. First, I am incredibly blessed. Second, is there anything I can do about this? Addressing the latter, I decided the first thing I can do is educate myself. Who, why, how, and to what extent are children homeless in Indianapolis? Furthermore, who is already out there helping to eradicate youth homelessness and how can I help? “According to HUD (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development) 22% of homeless persons are children and teens through age 18. Many of these youth stay with their parents in a shelter.” (Richards, 2008) This number is staggering! Nearly a quarter of those experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis are 18-years-old or younger. After talking to my site supervisor, Michael Hurst of CHIP Indy, I found that there are different classifications of homeless youth – all of which carry their own unique challenges. There are attached youth, and unattached youth. Attached homeless youth are those who are homeless but are still living with their parent or guardian. Of all the homeless people in Indianapolis, forty percent are families. (CHIP, 2002) These families may be living with relatives or friends – moving from house to house on a regular basis.
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The label of unattached homeless youth can be “distinguished by three broad categories; street youth, former foster care youth, and formerly incarcerated or delinquent youth.” (Richards, 2008) According to several sources including CHIP, Outreach, Inc., and HUD, it is estimated that 200 to 500 unattached youth currently reside in Indianapolis (Richards, 8). Here I will describe the different types of unattached youth. Street youth live either on the street or in unstable housing conditions and do not live with their parents or guardians. Also called runaway kids, these children “leave home due to intolerable conditions that often include parental abuse. [Whereas] ‘throwaway kids’ are those who have been forced by parents or guardians to leave home.” (Lucas, 2008) According to a 1995 study on 500 unaccompanied minors in Indianapolis, one-fourth had been sexually assaulted by a parent or guardian, and over half had been physically abused by a mother or father figure. Indiana law states that living on one’s own while under the age of 18 is a juvenile offense
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SIRR Paper - Anonymous Homeless Youth PHST 330 SIRR Paper...

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