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.

REQUEST INFORMATION

Entertainment

For movies opening August 18, 2017

  OPENING THIS WEEK Kam's Kapsules Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun by Kam Williams For movies opening August 18, 2017 BIG BUDGET FILMS The Hitman's Bodyguard (R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity) Unlikely-buddies comedy about an ace bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) who grudgingly helps a notorious assassin (Samuel L. Jackson) negotiate a dangerous gauntlet en route to the Hague where he's set to testify in 24 … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

The “King” Will Take Center Stage at the 2017 Wildlife Conservation Expo

  The “King” Will Take Center Stage at the 2017 Wildlife Conservation Expo by Amy Lignor   Each and every year the Wildlife Conservation Expo is held to address situations out there that are harming our world and its animal inhabitants. This time around, WCN’s annual Fall Wildlife Conservation Expo in October, will be focusing on various issues, but it is the King of the Jungle who will be taking center stage. For those who are … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

How Bassmaster Pro Edwin Evers Adjusts the Auto Settings on His Sonar

  How Bassmaster Pro Edwin Evers Adjusts the Auto Settings on His Sonar  by Edwin Evers When it comes to electronics, a question I get asked a lot is, “How do you customize your fish finder settings at the beginning of a day on the water?” The short answer is, “I don’t.”   You might think that a guy who makes his living with a rod and reel and who’s always looking for ways to tweak a lure or find a stronger knot would spend a … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

College Football Arriving Soon!

  College Football Arriving Soon! by Amy Lignor   Ask any college football fan and they will tell you that it seems like an eternity waiting for the season to begin. But, have no fear, the kick-off to the college season is almost here, with Colorado State and Oregon State hitting the field on Saturday, August 26th at 2:30 p.m. ET. On the same day, fans of Oregon State and Colorado State will see an active match-up, and Portland … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Going Back in Time on the Ultimate Steamboat Vacation

  Going Back in Time on the Ultimate Steamboat Vacation by Amy Lignor   Many people love taking a cruise. But it is the river cruise on that glorious steamboat that not only offers all the benefits a big ocean liner offers, but also creates a more personalized, intimate vacation experience. It is a unique recipe: being able to witness stunning landscapes, mixed with amazing history, while dining on acclaimed regional cuisine and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Real Estate

Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017

  Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017 by Amy Lignor   The term ‘meteoric rise’ usually applies to something fun. Think: A Hollywood actor who has been ‘discovered.’) Unfortunately, when it comes to this article, ‘meteoric rise’ is something that will not bring a smile to one’s face. To put it simply, if you wish to refinance your home, you need to do it ASAP. If choosing to wait too much longer, homeowners across the … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Business

Umbrella Insurance: The Safety Net You Need

  Umbrella Insurance: The Safety Net You Need by Amy Lignor   The realm of insurance is just about the most difficult maze to get through. Each and every day it seems the financial and insurance industries are changing. What is not changing, however, is the fact that lawsuits fill up the courts more and more – lawsuits that award cash to third parties even if you don’t happen to have that cash saved. More and more, the words “umbrella … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden

  Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden by Amy Lignor   Many are still dealing with that wintery mix Mother Nature just loves to toss down from the sky this time of year. Yet, that gardener living inside the soul – the one just dreaming of the sunny skies and lazy rainy days that are must-haves in order to grow the best vegetables possible – is already jotting down the facts, tricks and tips they need to know in order to make that … [Read More its Good for You...]

Books

Book of Black Heroes

  Book of Black Heroes Political Leaders Past and Present by Gil L. Robertson, IV Foreword by Myrlie Evers-Williams Just Us Books Paperback, $12.95 80 pages ISBN: 978-1-933491-21-9 Book Review by Kam Williams “The first African-American political leaders began to serve following the Civil War...Known as Reconstruction, this period represented a window of opportunity for African-Americans... Many [Black] political leaders emerged … [Read More its Good for You...]