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3.5 million young adults (ages 18-25) and 700,000 adolescent minors (ages 13-17) experience a form of homelessness in a given year. That’s 1 in 10 young adults and 1 in 30 adolescent minors.
11,520 young people (ages 13-25) become homeless each day. This totals 4.2 million young people experiencing a form of homelessness in a given year, from couch surfing to living on the streets.
Youth homelessness affects kids in urban and rural environments at similar levels — which means there are kids experiencing homelessness in all kinds of communities.
Half of the youth who experienced homelessness in the past year did so for the first time, and 42% went on to experience two or more episodes of homelessness.
While the reasons that force a kid to the streets are incredibly diverse and personal, here are a few of the most common, critical issues surrounding youth homelessness:
Each year, 20,000 young people “age out” of the foster care system — usually at the age of 18. Many are not yet equipped with the resources and knowledge necessary to live on their own, and nearly 26% become homeless.
1/3 of kids who live at Covenant House have had experience in the foster care system. We help them build the skills they need to transition from homelessness to independent adulthood, and we actively advocate for a system that helps those still too young to care for themselves.
Each year, about 100,000 young people exit the juvenile justice system. Most are discharged back to families struggling with domestic violence, substance use, unresolved mental health disabilities, and poverty.
For these at-risk kids, the juvenile justice system is a revolving door that returns them to the environment where their problems began. Covenant House offers these young people stability while we work with them to understand and resolve legal issues.
Youth in households making less than $24,000 a year have a 162% higher risk of youth homelessness.
6.7 million households in the United States spend more than 50% of their income on rent, and 4.4 million poor households “double up” (live with family and friends). These groups both have an increased risk of homelessness. (Source: "State of Homelessness" report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness)
LGBTQ youth comprise 40% of all youth experiencing homelessness, while they are just 7% of the total youth population in the U.S.
LGBTQ youth have a 120% higher risk of homelessness than their straight peers. Covenant House treats every young person with absolute respect, offering LGBTQ youth safe shelter and the freedom to be themselves.
Human traffickers target kids facing homelessness. These young people present a low-risk business proposition and are relatively easy to lure from the streets with promises of love, protection, food, and financial security. Because of their vulnerability, children and teens with no place to call home and no one to care for them make easy prey for traffickers.
19% of youth without homes are victims of some form of human trafficking, 14% are trafficked for sex and 8% for other forced labor. (Source: The Modern Slavery Research Project)
Pregnancy and parenting are common among young people facing homelessness, more so than among their stably housed peers. About 44% of young women and 18% of young men facing homelessness are parents or pregnant.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of children – up to 1.1 million in the U.S. in 2017 – live with a young mom or, less frequently, a young dad who is homeless. Covenant House's Mother and Child programs and new family shelter programs offer these young people parenting resources as well as safe shelter.
46% of kids facing homelessness are fleeing violence at home.
Youth lacking a high school diploma or GED have a 346% higher risk of homelessness than those who completed high school.
Black and African American youth have an 83% higher risk of homelessness. Hispanic and non-white youth have a 33% higher risk.
Covenant House is committed to providing a place of shelter and support for every at-risk young person who passes through our doors. We offer free primary health care, legal assistance, education and job training in addition to the love and compassion that all kids deserve. Each day that a young person wakes up, not on the streets but instead in a warm bed here at Covenant House, we will help them rebuild their lives.
Young people on the streets are compelled to prioritize daily survival over everything else, and suffer extraordinarily high rates of both chronic and acute health problems because of this.
Sleeping on the streets or in crowded adult shelters leaves young people vulnerable to infections like flu and hepatitis and to conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory illnesses, including asthma and pneumonia, which require immediate treatment that is often beyond reach. This means that even a minor infection can morph into a major health emergency.
Youth facing homelessness are still developing physically, cognitively, psychologically, and emotionally. The trauma that they have already faced and their vulnerable state makes this time of uncertainty even more challenging for them, and the additional trauma can have long-lasting effects.
Revising our intake process to include recommended questions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Setting aside quarantine spaces for young people showing COVID-19 symptoms.
Procuring and distributing cleaning materials, tissues, and hand sanitizer throughout our programs for staff and youth to use.
Maintaining a two-week stock of emergency supplies at all sites, including food, linens, masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning materials, and medicines.
Regularly disinfecting frequently used common areas of our buildings and all surfaces.
Developing emergency staffing protocol, including remote work where possible and a temporary ban on any non-essential visitors.