Arizona sees largest increase in homeless youth nationwide; here’s how you can help

American youth homelessness is on the rise nationally, and Arizona is no exception.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:26 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Homelessness is on the rise across Arizona, including the number of teens who are living on the streets or in a shelter.

According to a new report by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Arizona tops the list for the states with the largest increase of homeless youth. The numbers show a nearly 45% increase in Arizona compared to 2020.

“A lot of the youth that we serve are tied to an entire family who’s homeless, and we’ve seen a huge increase in eviction notices,” Dawn Bogart, Co-CEO of Homeless Youth Connection, said. Bogart says some apartment complexes by different high schools in the Phoenix area are being renovated and “once they’re renovated, they tend to increase their rents dramatically and so low and middle income families are priced out of the market.”

Even though the numbers show Arizona is seeing the largest increase in homeless youth nationwide, Bogart says the figures are likely much higher since they’re only based on a one-day homeless survey that happens once a year. “It doesn’t paint the full picture because it doesn’t include a lot of the youth that we serve, really the point-in-time count is one day at one time,” Bogart said. “You’ve got a lot of families you know, scattered all over the place, and if they’re doubled up or kids are couch surfing, those youth are not being counted.”

Bogart’s organization is working to make a difference by helping 600 homeless teens each year. Homeless Youth Connection is currently in 130 schools statewide including schools in the Phoenix Union High School District. “The difference between our program is that we meet the kids where they are. We take the services to them and for the majority of the kids that means to their school campuses,” Bogart said. The organization also works to help homeless youth find safe and stable housing, but most importantly, help them plan for the future.

“If they just graduate, that’s the band-aid, if they don’t have an opportunity to create a plan for sustainable living. We really haven’t broken any cycles so that’s really important part of the program as well,” Bogart added.

How to help

Volunteering is one of the most effective yet simplest ways you can most organizations, including Homeless Youth Connection. Click/tap here for opportunities. HHS also has a list of organizations that have been given grants to help vulnerable teens. Click/tap here for that list which includes a number of organizations in Northern Arizona, Mohave County, and the Tucson metro.