May 13, 2022 - News

Dallas youth homelessness can be tough to track

Children being led by an adult
An archive photo of homeless children being led to lunch. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The annual homeless census report released during Friday's state of homelessness address won't capture the full picture of families experiencing homelessness in Dallas and Collin counties.

Driving the news: The federally required census conducted in February primarily tracks unsheltered homeless people, anyone staying in emergency shelters and people living in transitional housing.

Why it matters: Not everyone experiencing homelessness stays in a shelter or lives in a tent under a highway overpass. Sometimes families hop from motel to motel, sleep in their cars or stay on friends’ couches.

  • "You won't find family homelessness on the street, if at all," Vogel Alcove CEO Karen Hughes tells Axios. Her nonprofit assists homeless families and offers counseling and educational programs to children under school age.

Details: Dallas ISD reported 4,368 students experiencing homelessness last year, up from 3,500 the prior school year.

  • These students self-report to teachers or other school staff.
  • Some of those students started out in Vogel Alcove programs, which have served 17,000 children in 35 years.

What they're saying: Hughes says most of the homeless families she meets lack a support system.

  • "Life just tended to happen, and there was nobody to call," Hughes tells Axios.

By the numbers: Last year's census was conducted during Winter Storm Uri, and people staying at warming stations were also interviewed as part of the homelessness count.

  • There were 4,570 unsheltered and sheltered people experiencing homelessness in Dallas and Collin counties in 2021.
  • In Dallas County, there were 1,244 unsheltered people.
  • Collin County tallied 180 unsheltered people.
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