Homelessness in America: Focus on Youth

41,000 Unaccompanied Youth Experienced Sheltered and Unsheltered Homelessness in January 2017

Homelessness in America: Focus on Youth shares data insights on unaccompanied youth homelessness, patterns of homelessness among youth experiencing homelessness, and risk factors that are associated with youth homelessness.

The report released by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) utilizes a series of data sources such as the 2017 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, the U.S. Department of Education school district data, Homelessness Management and Information System Data, and literature review to provide a comprehensive overview of homelessness among youth and young adults in the U.S.

According to the report, approximately 41,000 unaccompanied youth were experiencing sheltered and un-sheltered homelessness in January 2017. Young adults are more likely to experience un-sheltered homelessness as opposed to adults. Unaccompanied youth are also more likely to “couch surf” (staying for a brief period with a friend and family members).

The 2015-2016 school year data showed a 25% increase in the number of students experiencing homelessness from the 2013-2014 school year. Students experiencing homelessness were more likely to have low performance in school and tended to have negative experiences while attending school.

Youth fall into homelessness for many reasons such as:

  • family conflict,
  • child welfare and juvenile justice systems involvement,
  • fleeing abuse and
  • more.

African American and youth who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are more likely to experience homelessness compared to white and heterosexual youth. Most of the unsheltered youth counted in the PIT were living in urban areas. Whereas youth living in rural areas were more likely to “couch surf.”

Furthermore, homelessness among youth and young adults was associated with high rates of:

  • substance use,
  • exploitation,
  • trafficking, and
  • unsafe sexual practices.

NJCounts 2018 found that on January 23, 2018, 35 unaccompanied youth households under 18 were identified in the count. This represents a 28.6% decrease in the homeless unaccompanied youth population in New Jersey.

  • Youth are defined as persons under the age of 25 who are not accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • This can include individual unaccompanied youth, youth only households of 2 or more youth presenting together as a household, and pregnant or parenting youth who are the legal guardians of one or more children.
  • The United States Interagency Council has identified homeless youth as one of the priority populations of focus in Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness
  • Many communities across New Jersey are working to better understand the scope and needs of the youth population experiencing homelessness and are working with community partners to end youth homelessness.

Focus on Youth

NCounts 2018

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