COVID-19 & the Impact on California’s Homeless Youth

Feb 23, 2021

StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley

Homeless youth are an already under resourced population & with COVID-19, their ability to pave a path forward has become hamstrung, as evidenced in the September 2020 survey of 312 unaccompanied homeless youth, ages 15-25, across California by the California Coalition for Youth (Source: California Coalition for Youth 2021 Homeless Youth Survey Infographic)

COVID-19 has compounded the typical concerns of homeless youth with changes in employment, housing, & education.  32% of those surveyed had 3 or more different sleeping locations in the last week. Access to basic needs has become more arduous, with 66% of those surveyed indicating that they need more than 5 resources; employment being number one. Food/healthy food, physical health, housing, computer access, & WiFi being the next top needed basic resources, respectively.

The mental health of homeless youth has also been impacted due to “isolation, increased vulnerability, and loss of connections…”  Fear of contracting COVID-19 also weighs on their mental health as many already have poor health & are at a higher risk of COVID co-morbidity.

Homeless youth are struggling more than ever during the age of COVID, & while stable housing is necessary, we must also ensure that access to basic needs & resources are part of any plan to help end youth homelessness.

This data is at no surprise to us in Silicon Valley where our kids are living on the streets, struggle to find jobs in an economy hit hard by COVID, and having access to mental health resources, computers, WiFi, etc.  The past year we have seen our kids struggle more than ever, but we are proud to still have our outreach center open (when so many resources are closed to them) where we can help them navigate this virtual world of services, provide them with WiFi/computers for a couple of hours, and a safe place for basic needs to survive, such as food, hygiene supplies, hot shower, blankets, clothes, etc.  We are California strong and will continue to show up and be there for homeless youth, even during a pandemic.