Adolescent Well-Being After Family Homelessness

New Brief Examines Adolescents 20 Months After Family Homelessness in Shelter

Family homelessness has long-term impacts of adolescents as they continued to face housing instability or living in overcrowded situations after leaving shelter.

Adolescent Well-Being After Experiencing Family Homelessness. is a new brief released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The brief examines how adolescents who stayed in shelter with their families are doing 20 months later.

Highlights of the brief include:

  • Twenty months after staying in a homeless shelter with their families, most adolescents continue to live with their families. Many of these families were still experiencing housing instability or were living in overcrowded conditions at rates higher than other low income families.
  • Adolescents in families with recent experiences of homelessness were much more likely to have changed schools or been absent from school than their peers nationally at all income levels.
  • Among these adolescents with recent stays in homeless shelters, the persistence of housing instability (returns to homelessness or being doubled up with another household) was also associated with moving from school to school.
  • Recently homeless adolescents who changed schools frequently had slightly lower grades, less motivation, and slightly more problem behaviors than those who did not.
  • Adolescents with recent experiences of homelessness generally exhibited more problem behaviors than their peers nationally across all income levels.

The brief makes the conclusion that “While the federal government has dedicated resources for unaccompanied runaway and homeless youth, adolescents under 18 experience homelessness with their families more often than they do on their own. In addition to providing support for runaway and unaccompanied homeless youth, policymakers and practitioners should explore further interventions to address the challenges facing adolescents who experience homelessness with their families.”

Increased funding for the federal Housing Choice Voucher program would provide homeless families, including those with adolescent age youth, with affordable and stable rental homes.

Affordable apartments would allow the adolescents to remain in the same school and avoid the instability that comes with frequently changing schools and cycling in and out of homeless shelters and doubling up with friends and families.

This research brief used data collected for the Family Options Study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Adolescent Well-Being After Experiencing Family Homelessness

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