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Overall, findings show one in 10 young adults agesand at least one in 30 adolescents agesexperience some form of homelessness unaccompanied by a parent or guardian over the course of a year. As a nation, we are missing opportunities to ensure that all young people can reach their full potential and contribute to stronger communities and economies across the country.
Executive Summary Voices of Youth: For the next six months, Natalie cared for her four younger siblings. She started to miss school and ultimately dropped out.
The stress of her circumstance mounted. Through friends, she encountered meth, a drug that had become tragically common in her community.
Natalie then cycled between couch surfing and trap houses, where illegal drugs are sold. By 17, when chemical dependency had taken a strong hold, she stayed for extended periods in the shed of someone she knew. Natalie found herself regularly returning to juvenile detention—where she says she was grateful for a bed to sleep in and respites of safety.
When Natalie was interviewed, she was about to embark on a residential treatment program. Asked about her future, she said: I want to be home with my mom, and I want to stop using, and I want to be clean with my mom.
I want to be able to see my siblings. Adolescence and young adulthood represent a key developmental window. Every day of housing instability and the associated stress in the lives of young people like Natalie represents missed opportunities to support healthy development and transitions to productive adulthood.
Voices of Youth Count gives voice to young people like Natalie across our nation who do not have the necessary supports to achieve independence and make their unique contributions to our society.
Voices of Youth Count Through multiple methods and research angles, Voices of Youth Count sought to capture and understand the voices and experiences of thousands of young people like Natalie. While the deprivation of housing stability was the common thread in Voices of Youth Count research, the stories of youth homelessness—and the opportunities for intervention—rarely centered on housing alone.
Every experience, every youth, was unique. Yet, with the data gained through Voices of Youth Count, we can begin to better understand the scale and scope of the challenge and the patterns that can guide smarter policy and practice.
Sincewhen Congress first passed what is now known as the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act RHYAthe nation has recognized its shared responsibility to care for young people who live on the streets or apart from a safe and stable home. This landmark legislation, subsequent changes within statutes across multiple federal agencies, and ongoing national initiatives support a basic set of services for youth who experience homelessness and are at risk of homelessness.
Inthe U. Interagency Council on Homelessness USICH amended the national plan to end homelessness to include a specific Federal Framework to End Youth Homelessness, outlining steps that need to be coordinated across Federal agencies to advance the goal of ending youth homelessness by However, despite important national actions—and many efforts at the state and community levels—a sizable percentage of American youth continues to experience homelessness.
The problem is solvable, but much remains to be done. National Estimates summarizes the results of the Voices of Youth Count national survey that estimates the percentage of United States youth, ages 13 to 25, who have experienced unaccompanied homelessness at least once during a recent month period.
Results show that approximately one in 10 American young adults ages 18 to 25, and at least one in 30 adolescent minors ages 13 to 17, endures some form of homelessness.
Prevalence of Youth Homelessness in America 1 in 10 young adults ages experienced a form of homelessness over a month period. About half of them involved explicitly reported homelessness while the other half involved couch surfing only.
About three-quarters of them involved explicitly reported homelessness including running away or being kicked out and one-quarter involved couch surfing only.
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Download Key to understanding these estimates is the fact that young people—like Natalie—often shift among temporary circumstances such as living on the streets and couch surfing in unstable locations.
The Voices of Youth Count national survey also reveals that urban and rural youth experience homelessness at similar rates and that particular subpopulations are at higher risk for homelessness, including black and Hispanic youth; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth LGBT ; youth who do not complete high school; and youth who are parents.
Previous research shows that the longer youth experience homelessness, the harder it is to escape homelessness and contribute to stronger families, communities, and economies.
To exit homelessness permanently, youth require housing and support services tailored to their unique developmental needs. Although many factors drive youth from their homes, including economic hardship, conflict, abuse, and neglect, the young people thrust into this situation share difficulty and uncertainty.
Moving Toward Solutions Until now, one major challenge to putting solutions in place has been the lack of credible data on the size and characteristics of the youth population who experience homelessness and a way to track how this population changes over time.
Without credible numbers and deeper understanding, it has been difficult for the nation to develop a well-resourced and tailored response to address this problem in our communities. Every day of housing instability represents missed opportunities to support healthy development and transitions to productive adulthood.
No more missed opportunities. National Estimates provides Congress with new foundational evidence for understanding the scale, scope, and urgency of youth homelessness in America. Voices of Youth Count will bring forward more evidence in the months to come.
Look for Research-to-Impact briefs related to trajectories into homelessness, the dynamics between interactions with systems like child welfare and youth homelessness, synthesis of the evidence regarding interventions to address youth homelessness, and deep explorations of the experiences faced by specific subgroups of young people.Synonymous with quality entertainment and cutting-edge technology, The Walt Disney Company impacts a global audience every day.
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