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Charlotte Talks: The Rise Of Youth Homelessness


Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020

The National Center for Homeless Education released a report in January revealing there were over 1.5 million homeless students in 2018. That’s a 15% increase from 2015, and the numbers are expected to grow.

Underprivileged groups faced particular strife: Hispanic youth had 33% higher risk of homelessness, black youth had 83% higher risk and LGBTQ youth had 120% higher risk. Homelessness amplified other problems: LGBTQ youth were simultaneously exposed to discrimination within their families, self-harm and sexual assault.

In 2015 there was a 36% drop in homelessness in Mecklenburg County, and there were plans by Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg to end chronic homelessness entirely by the end of 2016.

The numbers did not pan out.

According to recent point-in-time counts in Charlotte, 2017 found 1,476 people experiencing homelessness, 2018 found 1,668, and 2019 had 2,106. The 2020 point-in-time count took place last month and totals are expected to increase.

In a city flush with development, banking and wealth, homeless camps dot the landscape in a stark contrast. What’s causing the surge in homelessness and what is being done to care for homeless youth – the city’s most vulnerable? We discuss the issue with organizations, officials and a young person experiencing homelessness in Charlotte.


Trish Hobson, executive director of The Relatives

Harold Rice Jr., vice president and chief operating officer of Community Link

Malcolm Graham, Charlotte City Council District 2

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.