FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Five Revealing Facts About Homeless Youth

by

shutterstock_344343347

The federal government has set a goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020 with Opening Doors, a strategic plan released in 2010. But as the plan acknowledges, figuring out how many youth are homeless is no easy task.

This month, communities across the country will undertake the annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count of homeless adults, families, and youth in an effort to measure the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January. Unfortunately, the PIT count generally undercounts youth experiencing homelessness, so some communities choose to conduct a targeted count of this critically vulnerable population.

As the date of the annual count approaches, it’s helpful to take stock of what we’ve learned about these youth.

1 Many youth who leave home are not ready to be self-sufficient. Youth are likely to leave home because of a bad situation rather than feeling ready. A hallmark of readiness is the ability to meet basic needs, such as food, shelter, medical care, and work, and many homeless youth have trouble meeting these needs. In one study, about half of homeless youth had difficulty getting enough food and a majority had spent at least one day in the past month without anything to eat. 
This is not surprising because we know that developmentally, many young people are not ready to be out on their own. Neuroscience research finds that the brain continues to experience major development during adolescence and early adulthood. In fact, because we know that hitting an 18th birthday does not necessarily indicate readiness for adulthood, most states have extended foster care past the age of 18 to respond to the needs of a population that are now more accurately described as “emerging adults.”

2 Most homeless youth return home. We know that most homeless youth return home. And this can happen quickly. In one study of 1,682,900 underage runaway youth and youth forced to leave home, 99.6 percent returned home and most were gone for less than a week. In a different study of newly homeless adolescents in Los Angeles, California and Melbourne, Australia, most newly homeless adolescents returned home for significant amounts of time within two years of becoming homeless. This doesn’t mean that all youth remain home permanently. But they do maintain connections, even while away from home. In another study, 41 percent of homeless youth who owned a cell phone reported using it to stay connected to their families.

3 Many homeless youth attend school. Homeless youth face enormous challenges when it comes to attending school, but many still attend. Based on our tabulations using the Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System, we find that 65 percent of homeless youth ages 12 to 18 were attending school regularly and 20 percent were attending school irregularly.
It’s possible that schools don’t know just how many of their students are homeless. One innovative approach is the Homeless Youth Estimation Project, a direct-to-student survey designed to provide an estimate of the number of youth within a school district living somewhere outside of home temporarily. Results from 12 high schools in New England indicate high rates of youth disconnection from permanent and stable homes.

4 Many youth remain connected to the internet and social media, despite being homeless. One study found that 80 percent of homeless youth use the internet at least twice a week, with many seeing the web as a way to create and maintain social networks and locate services. Homeless youth can use the internet and connections on social media to maintain relationships and stay in touch with family and friends.

5 When it comes to sex work, homeless youth are being coerced and manipulated, and participate out of desperation. Homeless youth are particularly vulnerable to being coerced into the commercial underground sex economy. In a 2008 study in New York City, a great majority of sexually exploited children expressed a desire to change their circumstances, but felt that they were doing what they had to do to survive.

This article originally appeared at the Urban Institute.

Lina Breslav is a research associate in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey- The Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail