As our previous blog post discussed, there are 46,000 homeless unaccompanied and
parenting youth and 17,000 of these youth are without shelter and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has recently stated that better tools and integration of data are needed to improve the understanding of the characteristics and needs of youth who are experiencing homelessness. In our new report, Without a Home and More: Homeless Youth Count 2015, we integrated the data from the fifteen known surveys of homeless and unstably housed youth completed last year and analyzed and summarized the characteristics of homeless youth, causes of youth homelessness, characteristics of youth homelessness, assistance available to and needed by homeless youth, and barriers experienced by homeless youth in accessing assistance.
In our last blog post, we described the characteristics of homeless youth from report: age, education, gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, employment, domestic violence experience, homelessness of parents, foster care experience, pregnant or parenting status, veteran status, substance use experience, physical and mental health, and justice experience.
In this blog post, we are going to summarize the causes and contributors of youth homelessness from the report: family or domestic violence, parent homelessness, sexual identity or orientation, pregnancy, medical and mental health, aging out of or leaving foster care or justice system, kicked out or ran away, and financial and legal.
Family or Domestic Violence and Family Conflict is a major cause of youth homelessness. Between 10% and 32% of homeless youth surveyed reported family/domestic violence as a cause of their homelessness. In addition, between 18% and 45% reported that a fight or argument with a parent, family, or others was a cause of their homelessness.
Another cause of homelessness for youth is the homelessness of their parents. Between 6% and 11% of homeless youth surveyed reported that the homelessness of their parents or family was the cause of their own homelessness.
Homeless youth reported that their sexual identity or sexual orientation was a cause or contributor of their homelessness. Between 1% and 11% reported that sexual identity or sexual orientation caused or contributed to their homelessness.
Pregnancy was also a cause of youth homelessness. Between 11% and 18% reported that pregnancy was the cause of their homelessness.
Homeless youth also reported that medical and mental health concerns were a cause of their homelessness. Overall, between 3% and 21% of homeless youth surveyed reported that medical or mental health was a cause or contributor of their homelessness with 3% to 5% reporting hospitalization or treatment, 4% reporting mental health issues, 6% to 11% reporting alcohol or drugs, and 10% to 21% reporting use of alcohol or drugs.
Aging out of or leaving foster care or the justice system was another cause of their homelessness. Overall, between 2% and 45% of homeless youth surveyed reported that they became homeless after aging out of or leaving the foster care or justice system.
Another cause of homelessness that may have originated from one of the other causes such as family violence or family conflict is being kicked out or running away from home. Between approximately 10% and 50% of homeless youth surveyed reported that being kicked out or abandoned or running away was a cause of their homelessness.
Also, homeless youth reported financial and legal reasons as causes of their homelessness. Overall, between 2% and 22% of homeless youth surveyed reported a financial and legal reason for their homelessness with 2% reporting foreclosure, 10% reporting eviction, 13% reporting they could not afford to pay rent, and 19% to 22% reporting a lost job.
To prevent and end homelessness of the nation’s youth, the causes of youth homelessness must be addressed. The report and upcoming blogs will describe additional facets that should be addressed to reduce youth homelessness.