Survey aims to get more accurate count of homeless youths in Buncombe County

S-HOMELESS YOUTH CAMP.transfer_frame_1882.jpg
YOUth Count is taking a survey to get a more accurate count of homelessness in Buncombe County, focusing specifically on the county's youths. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A first-of-its-kind survey is underway to get a more accurate picture of homelessness in Buncombe County.

YOUth Count, the local group behind the effort, is specifically focusing on the county's young people.

"We’re actually going out and doing surveys with youths and young adults under 25 years old that are not with their parent or guardians,” YOUth Count team leader Deanna Williams said.

Government data from 2018 shows there are about 23 homeless young adults in the area.

But Williams said that number seemed way too low. So, on Jan. 29, the group started the Needs Assessment Survey.

"The reason that is so important is because we have our literally homeless population, which the city does track, but we also have a lot of unstably housed youth, which are couch surfing," Williams said.

So far, the group has already counted more than 70 homeless youths, including 20-year-old Kyle Patterson, who has been homeless for about a year.

“I had a family falling out back in California," said Patterson, who has been in the Asheville area ever since.

Williams said its critical to find the root of the problem and help these young people as fast as possible.

"It is so easy for them to become chronically homeless," Williams said.

YOUth Count hopes this information helps the group get a grant from the federal government.

"It would provide housing things, and there are HUD requirements on how you can spend that,” Williams said.

Williams said even if the group doesn't get the grant, the information is still beneficial.

"Other organizations can now go out and apply for funding from other sources," Williams said.

The count will continue through Feb. 27. People who participate in the survey will be put in a drawing for a $20 gift card.

Click here to participate.