Homeless/Runaway Services: Demand Up, Resources Down

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Photo: NN4Y

More and more youths are knocking on the doors of homeless and runaway programs, but those programs have less and less to give them.

The recession-fueled trend of greater need amid declining resources has been evident to program operators for quite some time, and a survey released last month puts data behind the anecdotes: Things really are getting worse, in measureable ways.

The survey of 91 agencies around the country found that nearly 90 percent have seen an increase in demand for services over the past year, while 95 percent say their funding has decreased, 70 percent have reduced their staffs, and a little more than half have reduced services.

The National Network for Youth, which conducted the survey of network members and released it at its national symposium in Washington, D.C., said it will use the results in an effort to boost federal funding for homeless and runaway youth services.

The fiscal 2010 budget passed in December increased funding for runaway and homeless youth by $1.6 million over 2009, to $116 million, although President Barack Obama had requested holding the line at last year’s level.

The network issued a statement calling the increase “wholly inadequate.”

The Washington-based network says it has more than 400 member organizations, primarily community-based service providers and regional and state networks.

Nearly 66 percent of the network’s members reported state funding reductions; a little more than 46 percent reported drops in contributions from individual donors; nearly 32 percent reported declines in donations from private foundations; nearly 30 percent reported federal cuts; and more than 25 percent reported cuts in city funds.

Roughly 42 percent reported overall budget declines of 5 to 10 percent; and nearly 30 percent reported cuts of 10 to 25 percent. A handful reported reductions of more than 50 percent, but none reported being forced to close their doors.

Roughly one in six agencies reported cutbacks in street outreach, transitional living or basic center services, and nearly four out of five reported having to make cuts in unspecified areas.

Contact: National Network for Youth: (202) 783-7949, http://www.nn4youth.org.