Staggering number of children, teens and young adults live on the street in Pima County
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Homeless people are a familiar sight in some parts of Tucson, but you might be surprised to find out how many children live on the streets.
The state reports that there are more than 6,000 homeless or runaway youth in Pima County.
Another 1,000 are not in school.
At any given time, as many as 1,500 children and other young people, ages 12 to 21, are homeless and alone in our county.
Wednesday, several groups that work to help homeless youth in Pima County held a Youth Event for them at the Goodwill facility on Fourth Avenue.
The groups provided food, resources, personal hygiene products and other support.
The youth homelessness situation is being called a crisis for the children, teenagers and young adults, and for our community.
The Youth Event was a chance to reach out to those young people.
This also is considered a chance to get the word out to the community about this crisis in our midst.
These young people are vulnerable to all sorts of dangers, especially people who prey on them.
One young homeless man, Logan Azana, told me he wishes everyone who's rich could be poor for a day so they would learn.
"You can learn a lot. Not to judge people for one. I mean, hell, I get out on the street and I'm walking down the street and I get looked at by somebody because I'm wearing a backpack and I'm walking with a trash bag full of clothes, and get dirty looks, you know. I ain't a bad person. You know I'm a pretty good person. I'll give anything I got away," Azana says.
He says no child should grow up on the street without a bed, without food and without someone taking care of them.
"There are all kinds of issues but that's our future, you know, the kids. We need to make it a priority as a community so that we have resources to, One: get them off the street and then provide the things they need. And some of them obviously are hooked on drugs. The ones who were being sex-trafficked especially--there are special homes for that because of the trauma they've gone through," says Sold No More Executive Director Jerry Peyton.
Peyton says predators will demand sex in exchange for a place for a homeless young person to sleep or eat.
These young people are on the streets for many reasons.
A large number of them left abusive homes or were abandoned by the people who were supposed to take care of them.
to End Homelessness Homeless Youth Committee sponsored the Youth Event.