CHIP — “Youth homelessness rising in Indianapolis and there are laws in place keeping them from shelters”

Aaron Cantrell, CBS 4 Indy, December 7, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Youth homelessness is on the rise locally and nationally.

In Marion County there are not a lot of places teens can turn to for shelter during the frigid months. 

The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention says, last year 183 people under the age of 25 were experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis.

 Outreach Indiana’s CEO Jason Chenoweth says it’s an alarming number.

“They are trying to avoid the system a lot of times, so you won’t find them. They are going to try and go under the radar and stay out of sight,” Jason Chenoweth said.

Chenoweth says people who are 18 through 25-years-old can stay at a homeless shelter, but for those below 18 “Stopover” is the only shelter they can go to in Marion County.

“Because of our state laws we are really limited on how we can house youth and how we can put them up because we have to have parental sign off,” Chenoweth said.

 Chenoweth says parental approval is often hard to get for the homeless youth, so they resort to the streets.

 “A lot of them don’t have heat or utilities. Some do couch surf and are not stable. They don’t know where they will be one night from the next,” Chenoweth said.

 Mayor Joe Hogsett says he is familiar with the homeless issue in the Circle City.

 It’s why he goes around to homeless tents to find out what they need.

“I would rather go out among the population that has challenges and listen to what they have to say. I also want to listen to some of the suggested solutions and bring a consensus together,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

Chenoweth says in order to provide the youth who are homeless with more options; we must take a look at our state laws.

“It’s come before the legislature a lot of times. There’s a lot of reasons the law is what is but we got to figure out some version of this law where we can lower this age so that we can open more housing to the youth without the parental sign off,” Chenoweth said.

 There’s another youth shelter in the works of being open in the Circle City.

Outreach Indiana says keep donating to the homeless and push lawmakers to take a look at the laws involving youth and homelessness

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[Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention] has done a really good job of creating the opportunity for information, data, everything where homelessness pervades, but we haven’t activated it.