Why it Happens
Youth homelessness is steadily rising, and some of the reasons why might surprise you. Death of a parent, family dysfunction, abuse or neglect, pregnancy and family poverty are all contributors to youth homelessness. They may be part of a vulnerable population, or experience racial disparity. Lack of affordable housing and loss of employment are key contributors. More than one million young adults are homeless every day, and we want to change that.
What it Looks Like
Youth homelessness is couch surfing, sleeping in cars and riding public transportation all night long. It’s kids wearing the same clothing for days at a time, and keeping a close eye on multiple backpacks or bags. Homeless youth are hesitant to trust adults – they’re taking care of themselves long before their peers, because there’s no one for them to turn to. No two stories are the same, but the consistent suffering is.
What They Experience
A child or adolescent with no place to sleep experiences trauma on many levels. Even one night without a safe place to stay can result in exploitation, medical and mental health issues, and a high risk of school drop-out. Young people lose their childhood, family and sense of belonging. And homelessness can have long-lasting effects that impacts long-term earning potential and quality of life.
How to Change It
We can impact youth homelessness by educating our communities about what it is – and what it isn’t.
- Provide safe and stable housing in a supervised, structured and nurturing environment
- Engage youth through strong personal connections with caring, trusted adults
- Offer food, clothing, financial assistance, and educational and employment support
These and other essential services assist young people as they grow out of homelessness and into self-sufficiency.