Youth - Policy

Though definitive numbers are scarce, the Alliance estimates that there are 50,000 youth sleeping on the streets in the United States.

While data documenting the breadth and depth of homelessness among youth is rare, what is known is that homeless youth and young adults are at great risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, chemical or alcohol dependency, and death.

Given the diverse pathways to homelessness for unaccompanied youth and their special, developmental needs, youth require a specialized solution to their homelessness. Among the most important strategies are:

  • Early intervention services and family reunification efforts;
  • Increased housing options for youth; and
  • Transitional programs for youth aging out of the foster care and juvenile detention systems.

The Alliance focuses its efforts on preventing and ending homelessness around several key pieces of current and proposed legislation:

  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Act;
  • Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act;
  • Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act;
  • Chafee Foster Care Independence Programs; and
  • Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act.


Library Resources

Federal Policy Brief | September 6, 2012
This federal policy brief describes child welfare’s National Youth in Transition Database, which collects data on the services provided to youth aging out of foster care as well as the reporting of outcomes for youth who have exited, which includes homelessness. The survey is first administered at age 17, and then again when the youth is 19 and 21.
Federal Policy Brief | December 1, 2011
This document contains various charts showing Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) utilization, statistics, and efficiency.
Advocacy Resource | June 8, 2010
\| Youth experiencing homelessness require specialized care but few states offer the resources required to serve this vulnerable population. The Alliance provides two sample legislative texts for local advocates to propose to state legislators.