What are the causes of youth and teen homelessness?

Young people are at far greater risk of becoming homeless if:

  • Their parents engage in substance abuse or have mental health problems.
  • They suffered or witnessed child abuse or neglect in the home.
  • The family has been homeless previously.
  • They identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
  • They have been in foster care.
    • Children who have been in foster care are at greater risk of becoming homeless at an earlier age and to remain homeless for a longer period of time than other youth.

  • What happens to homeless youth and homeless teens on the streets?

    Young people who are too old for foster care, yet too young to apply for social services are often forced into homelessness. Homeless youths can face devastating short and long-term consequences.

    • Nearly 43% of homeless young men and 39% of homeless young women say they were assaulted with a weapon while living on the streets.
    • Homeless youth suffer significant mental health problems including: depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders.
    • Homeless youth are approximately 75% more likely to self-medicate and abuse substances as a means to deal with trauma and abuse.
    • Children living on the streets are more likely to engage in “survival sex” – trading sex to gain food, clothing, drugs, money, or just for a safe place to sleep at night.
    • According to a San Francisco government study, 17% of homeless youth are HIV-positive.
    • Homeless youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered are more likely commit suicide than other youth.
  • Homeless Youth & Teen Statistics & Facts
    • Approximately 1.7 million young people call the streets home every year.
    • Nearly 20,000 homeless people 24 years old and younger live in New York City.
    • Children under 18 accounted for 39% of the homeless population.
      • Of that number, approximately 42% were younger than age 5.
    • Approximately 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT.
    • Every year, approximately 5,000 homeless young people will die because of assault, illness, or suicide while trying to survive.
  • How is child abuse related to youth and teen homelessness?
    • 46% of homeless youth escaped a home where they suffered physical abuse.
    • 17% left because of sexual abuse.
  • What can I do to help homeless youth and help homeless teens?

    Harbor House is dedicated to assisting homeless, runaway, abused, neglected and abandoned youth, ages 10-21. Our mission is to provide a safe haven and caring environment for vulnerable youth to enable them to unlock their potential and learn skills that will empower them to build healthier lives, relationships and futures.

    If you would like to join us in making a difference for young people in crisis please see how you can help below:

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