ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – We’ve done numerous stories on the homeless in downtown St .Louis. But one organization is trying to shift the focus onto homeless teenagers. Dawn Hiatt is regional director of Runaway and Homeless Youth for “Youth in Need.” She says they see homeless teens as young as 10. Many have not experienced healthy relationships or have mental health issues.
“We might see a lot of food hoarding, kids not knowing where there next meal is going to come from a lot times really want to hoard a lot of food anytime it’s available to them,” she says.
A large percentage of the homeless teens they try to help have been trafficked or abused.
“A lot of times they engage in all kinds of survival activities, whether it’s sex for a place to sleep for the night, selling drugs. They do what they have to do to survive,” she says.
Youth in Need can provide transitional living for a year or more for older teens and emergency shelter for 30 days. Most of the homeless youth come from St. Louis city, St. Charles, St. Louis and Jefferson counties as well as Montgomery, Lincoln and Warren counties.