DEFINITIONS AND DIMENSIONS
Homeless youth are individuals under the age of eighteen who lack parental, foster, or
institutional care. These young people are sometimes referred to as "unaccompanied" youth.
The number of the homeless youth is estimated by the Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention in the US Department of Justice. Their most recent study, published in
2002, reported there are an estimated 1,682,900 homeless and runaway youth. This number is
equally divided among males and females, and the majority of them are between the ages of 15
and 17 (Molino, 2007). According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, unaccompanied youth
account for 3% of the urban homeless population, (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005).
According to the National Network of Runaway and Youth Services, six percent of homeless
youth are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT) (Molino, 2007). Ten percent of
homeless youth were recorded as pregnant (Greene & Ringwalt, 1998).
Causes of homelessness among youth fall into three inter-related categories:
economic problems, and residential instability.
Many homeless youth leave home after years of physical and sexual abuse, strained
relationships, addiction of a family member, and parental neglect. Disruptive family conditions
are the principal reason that young people leave home:
in one study, more than half of the youth
interviewed during shelter stays reported that their parents either told them to leave or knew they
were leaving and did not care (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (a), 1995).
another study, 46% of runaway and homeless youth had been physically abused and 17% were
forced into unwanted sexual activity by a family or household member (U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services (c), 1997).
Some youth may become homeless when their families suffer financial crises resulting from lack
of affordable housing, limited employment opportunities, insufficient wages, no medical
insurance, or inadequate welfare benefits. These youth become homeless with their families, but
are later separated from them by shelter, transitional housing, or child welfare policies (Shinn
and Weitzman, 1996).
Residential instability also contributes to homelessness among youth. A history of foster care
correlates with becoming homeless at an earlier age and remaining homeless for a longer period
of time (Roman and Wolfe, 1995). Some youth living in residential or institutional placements
become homeless upon discharge -- they are too old for foster care but are discharged with no
housing or income support (Robertson, 1996). One national study reported that more than one in
five youth who arrived at shelters came directly from foster care, and that more than one in four
had been in foster care in the previous year (National Association of Social Workers, 1992)
(Taken from the National Coalition for the Homeless Fact Sheet #13 published August 2007)
If you know of some one in need of our services please contact us 909-200-6893.
No one should do life alone!