People often call youth homelessness an “invisible issue.” Young people experiencing homelessness often don’t “seem” homeless, travel from place-to-place, and couch surf. It’s difficult to conduct an exact count of youth experiencing homelessness in the U.S.
A new study from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago helps illuminate the scale of the problem. It’s all part of Chapin Hall’s Voices of Youth Count initiative, which is designed to fill gaps in the nation’s knowledge about the scope and scale of youth homelessness. Here are some of the major findings:
- 1 in 10 young adults ages 18-to-25 endure some form of homelessness in a year. Half of the prevalence involves couch surfing only.
- 1 in 30 adolescent minors ages 13 to 17 endure some form of homelessness in a year. A quarter of the prevalence involves couch surfing only.
- Black or African-American youth had an 83% higher risk for homelessness.
- LGBT youth had a 120% higher risk for homelessness.
The study, Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America, is the first-of-its-kind to capture the scope of the issue broadly, by harnessing data from young people who have slept on the streets or in shelters; ran away from or were kicked out of their homes; or couch surfed, living with friends and family. Missed Opportunities draws on a nationally representative study of 26,161 people interviewed during 2016 and 2017. The study interviewed adults whose households had youth and young adults ages 13-25 and young adults ages 18-25. It also draws on other mixed-methods research components.