For more than a dozen years, volunteers have walked through Dallas neighborhoods in midwinter to count people living on the streets.
This year, for the first time, some of the groups were specifically looking for anyone younger than 24. The thing is, many of those people don’t actually consider themselves homeless.
Helping homeless youth
On a near-freezing Thursday night, six volunteers and youth advocates huddle in Dallas’ Deep Ellum. The neighborhood’s mixed — busy blocks jammed with bars and partiers, alternating with sparsely populated, dark streets with industrial buildings, apartments and the odd storefront.
The bundled-up team assembles near Malcolm X Boulevard and Taylor Street. Keri Stitt says they’re out to survey homeless youth. Stitt is the director of non-residential services for Promise House, which has served youth in crisis since 1984.
“There are about 12 sites,” Stitt says. “People will be dispersing to basically canvas Dallas and find youth that are living on the streets, build a relationship with them, and eventually, the hope is that they’ll fill out one of our surveys to help us to identify what resources they need.”