Charlene Brown shares the story about when she became homeless,
“I was just tossing stuff down the stairs, like ‘I gotta take this, I gotta take this,'” the 22-year-old told the Press of Atlantic City (http://bit.ly/1QtGU2a). “I was just scared. Where was I gonna go?”
Advocates in South Jersey are working to better identify this population that works hard to “camouflage” itself. Young adults
“Crash on couches and bounce between the homes of friends and relatives. They sleep in their cars or sometimes in abandoned buildings.”
Brian Nelson, site director of Covenant House in Atlantic City, is concerned that the traditional counts of the homeless may be undercounting the youth population. NJCounts 2015, the statewide point-in-time count of the homeless found 63 homeless young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 in Atlantic County.
“Covenant House has operated at capacity for the past few years, he said. Some residents sleep in the lounge until a bed becomes available. He said he knows of at least 30 other youths sleeping in abandoned areas not far from the Atlantic Avenue facility.”
“If I was to walk into a room of total strangers, if somebody was to ask, ‘What do you picture when I say the word homeless,’ I am willing to bet that the answer they get is adults or sleeping in boxes,” said Emma Holmes, 22, another Covenant House resident. “You don’t picture that I am homeless.”
“And it is more than just Atlantic County kids, many of which have been kicked out of their homes after the casinos closed — but it is kids from different points throughout the state, and they point to a larger issue that there are just not enough places for young people.”