- 1.6 million youth under the age of 18 runaway or are thrown away each year. An estimated 1.3 million of those youth return home within one week. For the remaining, more intensive supports and longer term housing options are needed.
- The demographics of runaway and homeless youth tend to be representative of the community they live in, however, there is some evidence that African-American youth are over-represented in the runaway population.
- Additionally, it has been estimated that, in some cities, up to 40 percent of the homeless youth population identify as LGBTQ.
Like the population, the causes of youth homelessness are also varied. Often, however they include family conflict that can involve physical and sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, financial inability to care for a youth, parental drug and alcohol abuse, or a rejection due to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Luckily, youth homelessness – like all homelessness – is a problem that can be solved.
Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness sets out a goal to end youth homelessness by the year 2020; if we’re going to do that, we’re going to have to start working together right now. The road ahead is long and windy but everyday, collectively, we move the needle with new research, new champions in Congress, and hardworking advocates and providers ensuring that runaway and homeless youth are given opportunities to be connected to caring adults, resources and housing.
In solidarity with National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, the Alliance will blog about the scope of youth homelessness, strategies to combat the problem, federal policies, and recommended improvements as well as other information and anecdotes to help to raise awareness of ways to end homelessness for this vulnerable population.