Google+

Youth Homelessness Policy & Data: What We Know and What We Don’t Know

The following excerpt on homelessness among young people comes from Jay S. Levy’s latest book Pretreatment Guide for Homeless Pretreatment Guide for Homeless OutreachOutreach & Housing First: Helping Couples, Youth, and Unaccompanied Adults (Loving Healing Press, 2013). The book provides human service professionals and concerned community members with a pretreatment guide for helping homeless Pretreatment Guide for Homeless Outreach couples, youth, and single adults.

~  ~ ~

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defined unaccompanied homeless youth as being less than 25 years of age and being literally homeless by living in a homeless shelter, designated transitional homeless program, or unsheltered, which includes places not meant for human habitation such as the streets, a vehicle or an abandoned building. The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which went into effect on January 4, 2012 expanded this definition, though HUD’s yearly Point In Time count still utilizes the former definition. The newer definition (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2012) also includes youth who are doubled up (couch surfing) and lack a permanent residence as evidenced by two moves or more over the past sixty days and who are most apt to continue to be unstably housed due to disability or multiple barriers to employment. To further complicate things, there are other federal definitions such as the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2008) that states, “An individual who is not more than 21 years of age… for whom it is not possible to live in a safe environment with a relative; and has no other safe alternative living arrangement.”

Meanwhile the US Department of Education’s homeless student definition (2012) combines unaccompanied youth with those who live with their families in homeless shelters, or other unsheltered homeless settings. The challenge of trying to quantify, or even to begin helping homeless youth presents us with the initial difficulty of defining our terms, as well as identifying who and where they are. Many young persons without homes try to blend in with other youth, avoid adult services and resources inclusive of shelters, and may not even consider themselves to be homeless (Pope, 2009). Over the years I have met many young persons without homes who consider themselves to be free spirits or travelers, rather than acquiesce to the homeless label. However, researchers (Farrow, et al., 1992; Kenney & Shapiro, 2009) have categorized homeless youth in regard to these significant factors:

  • Runaways (left home without consent of parents or caretakers)
  • Throwaways (forced out of their homes by parents or caretakers)
  • Forced Removal from Home by Authorities
  • Aged out of Foster Care – Approximately 25% exper­ience homelessness
  • Exited juvenile justice system
  • Primarily Unsheltered/Street Youth.

Regardless of these multiple categories, conflicting definitions and our difficulties with achieving an accurate count, we know that the simultaneous impact of homelessness, poverty, and lack of a support network at a young age compromises current health and future develop­ment. Here are some sobering US statistics on health and safety that bear out this sad reality:

  • Approximately 40% to 60% of homeless youth report being physically abused and 17% to 35% sexually abused (NAEH, 2006; Robertson & Toro, 1998)
  • 15%-30% of youth without homes report engaging in “survival sex” (NAEH, 2009)
  • 48% of youth living on the streets have either experienced a pregnancy or reported impregnating someone (Toro, Dworsky & Fowler, 2007)
  • 41% report having a sexually transmitted infection, as compared to 8% of the general youth population (Kenney & Shapiro, 2009)
  • 50% of homeless youth report suicidal behavior, and more than 25% have attempted suicide (Ray, 2006)
  • Homeless youth are more likely to experience anxiety and mood disorders, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a higher suicide rate then their housed peers (NAEH, 2006)
  • Approximately 75% use illicit drugs (NAEH, 2006)
  • Approximately 5,000 Youth experiencing homelessness die each year (NAEH, 2006).

Unfortunately, there are sub-populations that are even more apt to experience homelessness and its negative ramifications. Among them are young people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT). A recent survey by Durso & Gates (2012) confirms that LGBT individuals account for approximately 30- 40% of the homeless youth population. The survey found that 43% of clients served by drop-in centers and 30% of street outreach clients identified as LGBT. It also found that family rejection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was the most frequently cited factor contributing to LGBT homelessness. In addition, LGBT youth without homes are even more likely to experience mental health issues and attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers (Durso & Gates, 2012; NAEH, 2008). When we are working with LGBT youth, or homeless youth in general, our major goals include assuring safety, promoting acceptance, and facilitating a sense of belonging. These statistics are even more alarming when we consider the societal costs (moral, fiscal, and quality of life considerations) of young people being severely hurt and potentially struggling for many years to come.

~  ~ ~

To learn more about the book and its author, check out www.jayslevy.com.

Entertainment

Love Gurus Date Despite Philosophical Differences in Delightful Romantic Romp

  The Bounce Back Film Review by Kam Williams Love Gurus Date Despite Philosophical Differences in Delightful Romantic Romp   Love guru Matthew Taylor (Shemar Moore) is the author of the new best seller, "The Bounce Back." Accompanied by his enterprising business manager, Terry (Bill Bellamy), he's been hawking the self-help book on plenty of TV and radio programs. Since Terry believes that "Image is everything," he's concerned that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This

  Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This Book Review by Amy Lignor What began in an unforgettable Volume 1—living Jerry Hall’s story and dealing with the heart-wrenching issues of the Viet Nam* War—continues here. The action of battle, fraught with the unending horrors that the “unwanted veterans” dealt with, grows even more painful. And as war comes closer to an end, what should have been peaceful … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

New Home Sales Jump in April

  New Home Sales Jump in April By Burt Carey Sales of new homes hit their highest rate since 2008 in April, according to the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau. April sales increased 16.6 percent over March figures, which correlates to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000 home sales projected for the year. The median price of those new homes was $321,000, the highest median price ever recorded. That’s up 9.7 percent … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman By Craig Lamb You are a waterfowler hunting solo with your prized retriever. Getting to the blind takes a four-wheel drive to pull through mud holes and keep on the two-track. Behind your truck is that aluminum jon boat. Launching that beast alone is a real hassle. Get it launched and you spend more time loading all the gear, a dog and yourself. All of the above is part of the fun, maybe, of … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman

Gain all Access Mobility with Roundabout Woodsman By Craig Lamb You are a waterfowler hunting solo with your prized retriever. Getting to the blind takes a four-wheel drive to pull through mud holes and keep on the two-track. Behind your truck is that aluminum jon boat. Launching that beast alone is a real hassle. Get it launched and you spend more time loading all the gear, a dog and yourself. All of the above is part of the fun, maybe, of … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

The Best & Worst (So Far) of the 2016 NFL Season

  The Best & Worst (So Far) of the 2016 NFL Season by Amy Lignor     Okay…we’re almost dead center, folks, so it’s time to sum up the best and silliest actions and reactions that the 2016 NFL season has provided fans thus far.   Analysts are always yapping, and most likely nothing they say will actually come true. However, right now almost everyone is agreeing to the fact that Tom Brady has a score to settle. Yes, … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Charity Begins at Home

  Charity Begins at Home by Amy Lignor   Turning a blind eye is easy for some; preferred by others. But the fact is that the bad doesn’t become good – in any area – unless eyes are open wide to not only see what’s occurring, but also to gain the knowledge needed to stop the bad from getting even worse. Remarks are made about “other countries” and what they do wrong when it comes to the harming of animals for profit. However, in … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Exploring the Holidays Around the Globe

  Exploring the Holidays Around the Globe by Amy Lignor   Thanksgiving has been had. Games have been watched and the golden turkey has caused a great many belts to be loosened. So…here it comes!   From hanging the stockings on the chimney with care to the red-nosed reindeer who had to be there; from Santa heading down that chimney just right to lovely sleigh bells ringing softly in the night, the holiday season is a truly … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Forecasting Climate Change

  Forecasting Climate Change by Amy Lignor As with anything in this world, it depends on whose opinion or observations you trust as to just how bad climate change is becoming. As 2016 begins to wrap up, climate scientists, atmospheric physicists, chemists, oceanographers – you name it – no one can come up with any other explanation for climate change and the warming of our planet other than human activity. How fast is it happening? … [Read More its Good for You...]