The Target Population for Homeless Youth Outreach Services is young people who are 24 years of age or younger, who are not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian, and who lack a fixed, regular, or adequate nighttime residence. Many factors contribute to youth homelessness including family dysfunction (e.g., family conflict, parental neglect due to poverty or mental illness, and sexual abuse), aging out of the foster care system, juvenile justice system involvement, and economic hardship. The consequences of youth homeless may include, but are not limited to, unmet basic needs (e.g., food, clothing, shelter), untreated behavioral health conditions, substance use, sexual exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicide.
Baltimore County uses two indicator data points to estimate, to the greatest degree possible, the size of the unaccompanied homeless youth population – student homelessness and unaccompanied homeless youth (as measured by the Youth Reach survey count + Baltimore County Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data).
Since 2019, the County has experienced a level trend line in the percentage of Baltimore County Public Schools students experiencing homelessness. The County percentage rose from 2.19% in 2012 to a high of 2.7% in 2015, and declined slightly to 2.5% in 2019 and 2020. Baltimore County’s 2020 rate of 2.5% represents approximately 3,000 homeless students. In a data review conducted in February 2020 in preparation for Youth Reach survey implementation, the Baltimore County Public School System identified 327 unduplicated students meeting the definition for unaccompanied homeless youth.
Baltimore County provided services to over 4,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in FY20. According to the FY19 Annual Report on Homelessness*, Baltimore County served the second highest number of homeless individuals (4,174) in Maryland behind Baltimore City (11,798) (MD Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2019). Thirty-seven percent, or approximately 1,540 of those individuals served, were 24 years of age or younger.
Baltimore County’s 2018 Youth Reach Survey counted 87 youth defined as unaccompanied homeless youth. Youth Reach is a point-in-time survey conducted every other year throughout Maryland. When the University of MD combined the Youth Reach survey data with 2018 County Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data regarding unaccompanied homeless youth receiving homeless services, the count increased to 265 unduplicated unaccompanied homeless youth. Baltimore County HMIS data for 2019 identified 285 unaccompanied homeless youth receiving homeless services. The 2020 Youth Reach survey was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
*An FY20 Annual Report on Homelessness has not been published to date.