Homelessness is defined as a state in which individuals have no access to regular nighttime residence. Many people become homeless for many reasons such as poverty, loss of employment or low-income opportunities. This can have a negative impact on the individual and on the society. A group mainly affected by homelessness are children and youth, they are vulnerable groups that are at a great disadvantage. Being homeless affects their health, access to education and general wellbeing. The Georgia State House Bill 16 was introduced as a response to the education difficulties faced by college aged youths from foster care or homeless. The bill is designed to amend Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia, relating to education. The aim is to provide for in-state tuition in University System of Georgia and branches of the Technical College System of Georgia, and to to exclude foster care assistance from consideration as income for purposes of calculating financial aid. Homeless youths and youths in foster care face difficulties financing college, this bill was not the result of a single story it is the result of the stories of a large percent of the population of the state of Georgia.
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A study conducted by the Georgia State sociology department on homeless youth ages 14 to 25 found that 3,347 of Atlanta’s youth live on the streets and in and out of homeless shelters. The homeless youth are within the city limits of Atlanta and close-in suburbs inside of the Interstate 285 perimeter highway. (Atlanta Youth Count 2015) Data from the U.S. Department of Education found that during the 2016-2017 school year, there were an estimated 38,474 homeless population of youth and children in the state of Georgia. A large percentage were in shelters with the remaining living on the streets or in motels. (The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness 2019)
The groups most affected are African Americans which represents the largest percentage of the homeless population compared to the overall U.S. population. (HUD 2018) Youths who age out of the foster care system that end up homeless, youths that identify as LGBQT youths who have ran away from home because of physical or sexual abuse, abandoned or thrown out. These youths according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, are experiencing homelessness at a rapid growth as part of the homeless population. They are at a higher risk of being homeless when compared to other groups. The report also found that in 2014, 34% of people experiencing homelessness were under age the age of 24 (U.S Department of Health and Human Services 2017)
The problem of homelessness impacts both the individual and the community. The individual often experiences a loss of security, stability and their sense of self. They also face the risk of entering the criminal justice system, drug abuse, being the victims of violence, mental health issue and deterioration of their overall health. Homelessness also affects the community in many ways as the healthcare system is largely impacted. The homeless are more likely to suffer from chronic medical illness and uses the emergency room for crisis response.
Atlanta Youth Count study found that there are approximately 3,374 homeless and runaway youth living on the streets, in shelters, or in other precarious housing situations in Atlanta. However, they were also found in other areas of the state which are closer to the city. The study acknowledges that there were large areas of the state that were not included in the study and should be included in future studies to give a more accurate count. Atlanta Youth Count (2015) Eric R. Wright, PhD Erin Ruel, PhD Morgan Justice Fuoco Alex Trouteaud, etl al)
The people most affected by this problem are the unaccompanied youths in the state of Georgia. According to the US Government Accountability Office, unaccompanied homeless youth are required by law to have their status verified by either an official of specified federal homeless programs or a college financial aid administrator each time they apply for federal grants and loans. Obtaining This tend to be challenging for first year students, as these programs are not geared toward homeless youth in college. The financial aid staff are reluctance to determine whether a student is unaccompanied and homeless without the extensive documentations needed. This adds to the challenges as homeless youth who are living in the streets often find it difficult to produce these documents.
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Foster youths are also affected; however they are impacted in different ways they face barriers to financial aid based on their ages. The federal law age requirement can hinder access to program financial assistance for college for foster youth up to age 23, however they would have had to be receiving the assistance at 21. This causes a challenge as it then nulls the acceptance of Foster youth who start college after age 21. (U.S. Government Accountability Office 2016)
The issue of homeless youths is an issue that is prevalent across the country. According to a report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development On a single night, about 36,000 unaccompanied youth were facing homelessness. These unaccompanied youths are usually, people under the age of 25 experiencing homelessness on their own. Most unaccompanied youth (89%) were between the ages of 18 and 24 and only a half of these youths are in shelter. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Community Planning and Development 2018)
- Atlanta Youth Count, 2015, retrieved 2019/24/2 from http://georgiastatesignal.com/final-count-atlantas-homeless-youth/
- Atlanta Youth Count Final Report 2015 ATLANTA YOUTH COUNT AND NEEDS ASSESSMEN, Eric R. Wright, PhD Erin Ruel, PhD Morgan Justice Fuoco Alex Trouteaud, PhD Travis Sanchez, MPH, DVM Ana LaBoy Halley Myers Kara Tsukerman Christopher Vidmar Matthew Gayman, PhD Nicholas Forge, PhD Ciara Smalls-Glover, PhD Courtney Anderson, JD Robin Hartinger-Saunders, PhD https://atlantayouthcount.weebly.com/press-release.html
- Higher Education: Actions Needed to Improve Access to Federal Financial Assistance for Homeless and Foster Youth U.S. Government Accountability Office GAO-16-343: Published: May 19, 2016. Publicly Released: May 19, 2016.https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-343
- The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development OFFICE OF COMMUNITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2017-AHAR-Part-1.pdf The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness https://www.usich.gov/homelessness-statistics/fa/
- US Department of Health and Human Services Youth https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/youth