UC Berkeley study finds homeless teens 10 times more likely to die than peers

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Young people living on the streets of San Francisco are 10 times more likely to die than their peers, this according to a newly released study from the UC Berkeley. (KGO-TV)

Young people living on the streets of San Francisco are 10 times more likely to die than their peers, this according to a newly released study from the University of California Berkeley.

One organization is offering them a home in exchange for keeping their community clean.

Suicide and substance abuse contribute to a higher mortality rate among homeless youth in San Francisco. A UC Berkeley research team followed more than 200 young people, ages 15 to 24 years old, during a six year period.

"And over that period 11 young people died, where as one should have died," said Colette Auewswald of UC Berkeley's school of public health.

The main researcher says that population is highly stigmatized and that leads to neglect.

"So they don't have the support from adults that young people need and that leads to an inability to meet their basic needs," Auewswald added.

The study found that the vast majority of these young people are homeless not by choice. They are often neglected or abused by their families.

"Almost everyone that I know out here is either running from an unhealthy family dynamic," said Rebecca Krieger, a former homeless youth.

Rebecca Krieger found it safer to live at Golden Gate Park than at home. Today, she lives on her own in an apartment, in exchange for doing work cleaning the streets.

"What it is, is they take homeless kids from the park and then we sweep the streets five days a week and then we get housing in exchange," she said.

Christian Calinsky is one of the founders of the organization called Taking It To the Streets. Calinsky himself was once in the same situation, abused and homeless.

"Currently, I have 27 kids in my program, 17 of which are sweepers, 10 of them have full-time jobs and are paying a fraction of rent, just to get used to paying rent because they've been out for a while," Calinsky said.

He's offered some of the city's SROs, single room occupancy units. The money for the program comes from private donations.
Related Topics:
healthhomelesssuicidemental healthdrug addictionteenagersteenagerUC BerkeleyresearchUC BerkeleySan Francisco
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