Understanding the Scope of Youth Homelessness in America – National Network for Youth

Scope of Youth Homelessness in America

Written by |March 11, 2019

Recent Poll Reveals Disparity Between Wanting to Help Homeless Youths and Understanding the Scope of Youth Homelessness in America

The National Network for Youth believes in the importance of tapping into key data that will help drive the mission to end youth homelessness forward. This past February, we partnered with Ipsos, a global market research and consulting firm, to poll 1,005 adults above the age of 18 on youth homelessness issues.

Ninety-one percent of polled Americans believe dealing with the problem of youth homeless is important. Eighty-eight percent agreed the success of young Americans has a direct impact on the success of their communities. While most participants agreed youth homelessness should be addressed, many did not understand the full size and scope of the issue.

The poll asked Americans how many of the 35 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 in the United States they believe experience homelessness in a given year. Twenty-six percent responded “Don’t Know” and 23 percent believed that less than 2 million young adults experience homelessness. However, of the 35 million young adults in the United States, around 3.5 million young adults (or 10%) experience some form of homelessness in a given year.

Twenty-six percent of participants also answered “Don’t Know” to how many of the 21 million Americans youths between the ages 13 and 17 experience homelessness in a year. Twenty-four percent responded correctly that between 500,000 and 1 million youths experience homelessness.

Ipsos Support Government FundingFurther questions overwhelmingly revealed that approximately 80 percent of those polled believe the federal and state governments should prioritize reducing youth homelessness. About 80 percent also agreed that federal and state governments should prioritizing the funding for programs that help young homeless people finish high school and find a job.

Over three quarters (79 percent) of polled Americans agreed that young people who can find food and shelter by couch surfing should still be allowed to use public services providing food and shelter.

Though Americans have expressed concern and the desire for the government to address youth who experience homelessness, current federal definitions of youth homelessness are limited.

Of the eight definitions of homelessness used by federal agencies and programs, all but one use criteria that are appropriate for and reflective of the experiences of young people experiencing homeless. Those programs are ones administered by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Justice and Agriculture. These definitions focus on the safety of the youth’s living situation, rather than its location or duration.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) uses a more narrow definition that focuses on the way single adults, not youth or families, experience homelessness. This definition is also used by the federal government to inform the total number of young people considered to be homeless. Many youth stay temporarily with others or in motels rather than sleeping on the street. HUD’s current definition of homelessness deems these youth to be “at lower risk” and therefore not considered to be a priority.

Ipsos 91% ImportantThis restrictive definition of homelessness and youth homelessness results in undercounting the number of youths who are homeless, and influences the perceived prevalence of homelessness. When definitions and prioritizations based on definitions are limited, we lose the opportunity to prevent youth who may be facing homelessness for the first time from becoming the next generation of chronically homeless adults.

Last year Congress considered, and advanced out of committee, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which would ensure that anyone considered homeless by any federal program is eligible to be assessed for HUD services, and ensures that HUD’s assessment of the number of homeless individuals reflect all forms of homelessness. Congress has continued to support funding for a wide range of programs to prevent and respond to young and young adult homelessness, but more resources are needed to address the scope of the challenge.

 

The National Network for Youth has been a public education and policy advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of youth homelessness in America. NN4Y mobilizes over 300 members and affiliates –organizations that work on the front lines every day to provide prevention services and respond to runaways and youth experiencing homelessness and human trafficking.

National Safe Place Week – by Emily Long

NSP Week 2019 - FB CoverThis week is National Safe Place Week, a week that not many may know about, but is very important. Around a year ago, I was on my way to Louisville, KY to learn about Safe Place. I was recently informed that I was selected to be a Columbus Foundation Summer Fellow, and my placement was at Huckleberry House working on a project called Safe Place. I was absolutely thrilled and excited. Safe Place is a youth outreach program that helps those in crisis get to safety. I was able to learn from the National Safe Place office in Louisville about the ins and outs of the program. At Huckleberry House, I was able to use this information to reconnect our Safe Place program with the Columbus Fire Department, create a new operations manual, and coordinate logistics for the sustainability of the program.

My summer at Huckleberry House working on Safe Place was impactful. It is so important to provide a way for youth in crisis to get to Huckleberry House. Our city is continuously growing and youth homelessness is a real challenge for central Ohio. I learned at Huck House to put people and relationships first to help guide this program. Safe Place is truly about the youth, and the number one priority is to keep them safe. I am grateful for the opportunity to work on Safe Place last summer and to work with all the folks at Huck House. If the program helps even just one youth find their way to Huck House, it is worth it to keep our Columbus youth safe!

Written by Emily Long, Huck House 2019 Columbus Foundation Fellow

Sleep Out! Team Spotlight – New Leaders Council Columbus

New Leader's Council Columbus Group

 

New Leaders Council is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders and to providing those leaders with the tools they need to succeed.

  • Why is your team sleeping out on April 12th, 2019? To be a part of an effort to raise awareness and money for a growing and often forgotten population of fellow humans in our Columbus community
  • What does your team hope to gain from the Sleep Out? We hope to that be experiencing even a small slice of the reality faced by the homeless will leave us with a better understanding of the harsh reality lived by so many.
  • What brings your team together for this event? We all understand that Columbus can never truly by a city of Us until all people are able to access all opportunities, especially basic human needs like shelter and food.

Support the New Leaders Council – Columbus team in their commitment to raise awareness and funds and Sleep Out! to end youth homelessness in central Ohio. Donate to their team page HERE or register your own team and raise awareness and funds HERE.