Thanks for covering homelessness (“Count of Maine homeless dropped this year, but rises over long term, survey finds,” Oct. 30). But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s data is misleading.

More than a million children will sleep tonight with a roof over their heads, but it’s not their roof. They endure the same horrors facing homeless adults. A 17-year-old Michigan boy was raped by the person he stayed with. A 13-year-old Ohio girl was sexually trafficked by the man who promised her housing.

But HUD’s definition of “homeless” excludes them. HUD’s counts largely ignore them, too, focusing instead on shelters, bus stations, parks and other places where homeless youth and families are less likely to go.

The result: HUD’s numbers don’t add up. While HUD reported a nationwide drop in family homelessness during recent years, the latest U.S. Department of Education data showed an 18 percent increase in the number of homeless K-12 students from school years 2010-2011 to 2012-2013.

Bipartisan legislation – the Homeless Children and Youth Act – would force straight answers from HUD. Urge your congressional representatives to support it, so we can have an honest conversation about child, youth and family homelessness.

Bruce Lesley

president, First Focus Campaign for Children

Washington, D.C.

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