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United Way Member Agency


Facts on Youth Homelessness 

Homeless youth require time, resources, commitment and a personalized "step by step" approach to provide basic necessities in a safe, compassionate environment as they make the difficult transition to adulthood.

Teens can become homeless for numerous reasons, including, family dysfunction and breakdown, inadequate housing that cannot accommodate them, domestic abuse (physical, sexual, or substance), or because of being abandoned or kicked out of their family's home. Teens may not consider themselves homeless because many of them resort to "couch surfing" or staying with various friends or family members. However, without a stable housing environment day after day, these youth are in fact, homeless. Our goal is to help ensure that these young people acquire the skills and education they need to become productive and self-sufficient adults.

Within 2-4 years of exiting foster care, 25 percent of foster children experience homelessness. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

Researchers estimate that 5 to 7.7 percent of youth experience homelessness each year. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

The best studies available indicate that over 1 million youth are homeless each year in America. (National Partnership to End Youth Homelessness)

Of the over 1 million homeless youth in America, the Runaway and Homeless Youth 
programs served just over 600,000 in 2004. Over 6,800 youth were turned away and denied shelter and housing, and only one-third of homeless and runaway youth contact through street outreach in 2004 had their needs met. Communities have the desire to serve homeless youth but often lack the necessary options of outreach, drop-in centers, shelters, and housing to intervene. Once homeless, many youth face survival on the streets, recruitment by gangs, exposure to drugs, and sexual exploitation by adults. (National Partnership to End Youth Homelessness)

The same factors that contribute to adult homelessness, such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, low education levels, unemployment, mental health, and substance abuse, can lead to homelessness among youth. Beyond these factors, youth homelessness is largely a reflection of family breakdown. Youth become homeless for varying reasons, including running away from home, being abandoned by their parents or guardians, being emancipated, or discharged from some sort of state care. Homeless youth often flee homes where they experience physical abuse and between 17 and 35 percent experience sexual abuse. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

Youth report severe family conflict as a primary reason for becoming homeless. Volatile conditions within a family create an environment where the youth may experience physical violence, sexual abuse, chronic neglect, abandonment, chemical dependency, or mental health issues by their parents. Across studies of homeless youth, sexual abuse experiences range from 17 to 53 percent and physical abuse ranges from 40 to 60 percent. Youth may also become homeless when their families throw them out due to pregnancy, drug or alcohol use, sexual orientation, or school problems. (National Partnership to End Youth Homelessness)

In 2002, the Census Bureau issued a report that details the relationship that exists between educational attainment and earnings. Between the years 1997¬† Ő∂¬† 1999, the average person who drops out of high school earned $18,900, while the average high school graduate earned $25,900. The difference in earnings between the two is about $350,000 over a person's normal work life (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). Our numbers demonstrate that youth who have come through our program have a better chance of completing high school and thus earning a higher wage.


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