By Sheila Babb Anderson
One of the long-standing problems with fighting youth homelessness is the lack of reliable data about the scale of the problem. While earlier studies have indicated that we have around 13,000 homeless youth and young adults in Washington, there has never been a number to show the full nationwide scope.
That changed this month with study results funded in part by the Campion Foundation, Chapin Hall’s “Voices of Youth Count.” Chapin Hall has produced the first ever academically defensible national youth homelessness survey, also published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
These national numbers confirm that Congress needs to do more to support homeless youth and young adults. Now that they have a true idea of the scale of this issue, we hope Congress will do what is needed to address it on the federal level.
Key findings from the study include:
- 1 in 10 young adults ages 18-25 and 1 in 30 youth ages 13-17 experienced a form of homelessness over a 12-month period
- This adds up to 2 million youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in a given year
- Homelessness is equally likely to occur in both urban and rural areas
- Youth of color and LGTBQ+ youth are more likely to experience homelessness
Along with the study results, Chapin Hall has also issued a number of recommendations on the federal level to combat the problem. Some of the recommendations include:
- Conduct national estimates of youth homelessness biennially to track our progress in ending youth homelessness.
- Fund housing interventions, services, and prevention efforts at the scale needed to end youth homelessness and recognize that youth need different services than adults.
- Focus on prevention in systems where we see youth experiencing homelessness: child welfare, juvenile justice, and education.
- Tailor supports for rural youth experiencing homelessness to account for limited services over a larger terrain.
As we approach Washington’s 2018 legislative session, our partners at A Way Home Washington and other advocacy groups will be incorporating the Voices of Youth Count study and recommendations into their agendas to keep progress moving forward on the state level.