New Study Uncovers a Startling Statistic: 4.2 Million Kids Experience Homelessness Nationwide

There is growing and often hidden epidemic – 4.2 million young people experience unaccompanied homelessness in the course of a year, according to a new study from Chapin Hall a research center at the University of Chicago. This study provides new evidence for understanding the scale, scope, and urgency of youth homelessness in America.

The scale of the issue is startling – 1 in 30 teens (ages 13-17) experience some form of homelessness unaccompanied by a parent or guardian over the course of a year. As children age, the problem is more prevalent. One in 10 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 experience homelessness.

The study also found that some populations are more likely to experience homelessness than others. For example:

  • African American youth are 82 percent more likely and Hispanic non-White youth are 33 percent more likely to experience homelessness.
  • LGBTQ youth are 120 percent more likely to experience youth homelessness than other people.
  • Unmarried parenting youth had a 200 percent higher risk for homelessness.

In addition to shedding light on who is most often affected, the new report corrects some misconceptions (showing it is an issue in rural as well as in urban areas), and the impacts that homelessness can have on youth education and development (youth experiencing homelessness often do not show up to school or frequently switch between schools, and as a result do not have high school diplomas).

The researchers recommend that policymakers build prevention efforts in systems where youth likely to experience homelessness such as the child welfare, juvenile justice, and education systems. Statistics show that nearly one-third of youth experiencing homelessness had experiences with foster care and nearly half had been in juvenile detention, jail, or prison.

Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) is honored to have partnered with Cleveland Ohio’s Housing First Initiative to help implement its local and trade earned media campaign in December 2017 to educate the community about its milestones to date and to announce that it is on pace to end long-term homelessness by 2020. As a result, Housing First secured the following earned media:

  • WCPN Sound of Ideas: Net Neutrality and Housing First – A look at Housing First, a collaborative in Cuyahoga County that announced it is on pace to end long-term homelessness in the region by 2020.
  • WVIZ ideas: Long-Term Homelessness Dwindles Down in Cuyahoga County –
    Housing First says that it is on track to end “long-term homelessness” in Cuyahoga County by 2020. The group looks to finish its 13th project in 2019, bringing the total number of residential units to 781.
  • Crain’s Cleveland Business (appeared online and in print):  Organizations near milestone in housing for Cuyahoga County homeless – A $12.9 million apartment building in Brooklyn Centre may be the final puzzle piece in solving chronic homelessness in Cuyahoga County. Housing First, a collaboration of community organizations in Cuyahoga County fighting long-term homelessness, has announced it is on pace to end the problem in the county by 2020. With the construction of this new apartment building, slated to be completed in 2019, the group said the county will have enough permanent supportive housing to sustainably serve all individuals and families with disabilities who are struggling with long-term homelessness.
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