Chicago — The number of young adults experiencing and struggling with homelessness in Washington, D.C. has increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were about 622 young adults between ages 18 and 24 experiencing homeless in 2019 and that number increased by 5% within a year to 651, according to NBC Washington. Various factors, including homophobia, poverty and racism, paired with poor underlying health, made them vulnerable during the pandemic.
“The very nature of youth homelessness is that many people go unseen because they are intentionally staying hidden,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, director of D.C.’s Dept. of Health and Human Services. She also noted that getting young people the help they need is a challenge. “Oftentimes youth who are in a situation at this age and are in need of support have experienced a lot of trauma and they are not trusting.”
Marquette Brooks told NBC Washington that he was “in a very toxic household” as a teen and found himself without a place to live. There were times when he’d feel more safe at school than at home.
“There were times when I felt I had no one, I felt I had no support, I felt I had nowhere to go,” said Brooks.
He now lives at one of the Sasha Bruce Youthwork Centers where he has access to healthcare and a job.