Homeless Youth More Likely to Visit Drop-In Center Than Shelter

Outreaches and Services Key
To Connecting to Youth

Addressing Youth HomelessnessU.S. News & World Report reports that a January study published by the Prevention Science journal finds that drop-in centers can play critical in helping homeless youth get housed and find jobs and stability.

“Many kids won’t go to shelters because they’re hiding on the street. They’re avoiding the service system because they’ve been abused and betrayed by everyone who is supposed to love them.”

Said lead researcher Natasha Slesnick, a professor of human sciences at Ohio State University.

“They’re fearful of being preyed upon by older people at shelters, and the paperwork can be overwhelming.”

She explained in a university news release.

Slesnick, the executive director of the University’s Star House drop-in center in Columbus, makes the point that centers are not meant to take the place of residences and cannot replace shelters. But they do provide an opportunity to engage the – “hardest-to-reach” homeless youth.

“Every city needs a drop-in center,” but there are only about a couple of dozen nationwide, Slesnick added. “This is an underserved marginalized population with few resources devoted to their problem. For most of them, a shelter is not going to solve the problem.”

In the study, an advocate was designated to homeless youth and worked to try to engage them in services. Specific findings include:

  • 80% of the youth encouraged to go to the drop-in center went there
  • 18% of those encouraged to go to the crisis shelter went there
  • 31% of those assigned to the “shelter” group ended up at the drop-in center, the researchers found.

Abstract of the Study

U.S. News & World Report Article