The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and The Miami Coalition for the Homeless will spearhead a point-in-time count of unaccompanied homeless youth in our community on August 29, 2013. Called "iCount", volunteers will spread throughout the County on one day to identify unaccompanied and unstably housed youth ages 13-24 in Miami-Dade County.
“Homeless youth are hard to find and hard to count,” said Homeless Trust Chairman Ron Book. “They learn to be invisible and keep a low profile. But it’s our responsibility at the Homeless Trust to do what we can to seek them out. If we can find them, we can begin to help them.”
The youth count comes at a time of increased interest at the federal, state and local level to understand the extent of youth homelessness. With better understanding, comes better services.
"Not only is this is a great opportunity to ensure that all vulnerable populations are being heard and seen, but it has provided for greater coordination and cooperation among youth-serving organizations in our community," added Monica Vigues-Pitan, Chair of The Miami Coalition for the Homeless.
The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and The Miami Coalition for the Homeless began discussing the concept of an unaccompanied youth count almost a year ago. Organizations such as Miami Bridge, Switchboard of Miami, Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Homeless Education Program, Pridelines, LGBTQ Alliance, Our Kids and others came together and, after much research on similar efforts in other cities, developed the process for Miami-Dade’s first youth-focused count. iCount includes a comprehensive outreach utilizing youth volunteers and social media, and works lock-step with the Miami-Dade County Public School system. A Public Service Announcement campaign will promote the Youth Count to the community at-large.
On August 29th, volunteers will be at about a dozen fixed locations, while others will canvas areas where unaccompanied homeless youth are thought to reside. The iCount is scheduled for the same day as the bi-annual countywide homeless count, when volunteers and professionals comb the streets of the County to get an accurate count of the homeless population.
Volunteers are still needed to assist with the County’s youth count efforts. Visit http://www.icountmiami.com or call The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, 305-375-1490, between the hours of 9 am - 5 pm to register to volunteer or get more information. And if you see someone homeless or about to be homeless, please call The Homeless Helpline at 1-877-994-HELP.