It is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. It is a month to shed light on what teen homelessness looks like and share ideas for keeping young people safe and stably housed. This year, we want to get the word out that homeless youth are so much more than their housing status.
There are many factors that lead to youth homelessness.
Some of these include:
◾Time in the foster care system. By the time they are in their mid-twenties, more than one-third of youth who age out of foster care will have been homeless at least once, according to a long-term study by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Using this study as a guide, the research organization shares predictors of youth homelessness and suggestions to reduce its likelihood.
◾Identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). Coming out to their families can put LGBTQ youth at risk of being harassed or kicked out of their homes. A recent study from True Colors Fund details the needs and experiences of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.
◾Being pregnant or parenting. Young parents are at risk of homelessness due to stigma and family rejection, while youth who are already homeless are more likely to become pregnant compared to their housed peers. An online issue brief published by the National Network for Youth offers recommendations for reducing housing stress for young parents (PDF, 756KB).
◾Trauma. Many homeless youth face traumatic events before they leave home and are re-traumatized while living on the street. This guide from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network helps shelter workers understand complex trauma among homeless children and families (PDF, 195KB), and how they can help rebuild a sense of safety and stability.
Youth Homelessness…it is definitely more than meets the eye!