The Reality

4.2 Million Homeless Youth in America

Homeless youth are living on the streets in major cities, small town, and in most suburbs in the United States. Some kids manage to stay in cheap hotels, parks, abandoned buildings, and other unsuitable or unstable locations for some periods of time. Many homeless kids are forced to make difficult choices just to survive.

There are shelters in some cities, but most shelters do not offer any or enough beds for youth.

Sobering statistics

  • 1.7 million U.S. youth experience homelessness every year.
  • 50,000 youth sleep on the streets for six months or more each year.
  • One in every five children between ages 10 and 18 will run away.
  • Up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
  • Every day, 13 at-risk youth will die due to assault, illness, or suicide trying to survive on the streets – that’s approximately 5,000 per year.
  • About one-quarter of youth experience homelessness within a year of aging out of the foster care system.
  • Compared to housed youth, homeless youth are 75% more likely to self-medicate and abuse substances as a way to deal with trauma.

You can learn more about youth homelessness from the National Network for Youth and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Four common pathways to becoming homeless

The National Network for Youth, of which we are a member organization, has determined that there are four main causes

  • Family instability, including child abuse and/or neglect, domestic violence, parental substance abuse and family conflict including conflict over sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • System involvement, including the child welfare system with a high percentage of youth aging out of foster care ending up homeless and the juvenile justice system with a high percentage of youth who are released from incarceration becoming homeless.
  • Residential instability, usually with one’s family, usually due to economic issues. Youth may become homeless with their families but may be separated from their families because of shelter, transitional housing or child welfare policies.
  • Extreme disconnection from education, employment and support networks.

Many youth who have lived through these situations and have ended up homelessness, have experienced significant trauma that needs to be as they develop the independence and self-sufficiency to be able to move to permanent housing.

Categories of youth we assist

  • Early Runners: Displaced from their homes due to severe conflict, abuse, or neglect and experiencing short-term homelessness.
  • Doubled-Up: Transition-age, cannot return home, and require housing with life-skills training.
  • Older, Employed Homeless Youth: Highly mobile, with access to part or full-time employment, but no access to affordable housing opportunities.
  • Street-Dependent Youth: Sleeping outside, in public spaces, or in abandoned buildings for six months or more in need of services to facilitate social inclusion.
  • Homeless Youth with Long-Term Disabilities: Experiencing cognitive or emotional challenges and who will require support into their adult years.

Survival on the streets exposes youth to:

  • Human trafficking
  • Acute diseases
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical assaultUnwanted pregnancies
  • Drugs and alcohol misuse
  • Untreated mental illness
  • Suicide