Youth

Intervention services, housing options, and transitional support for the foster care system are strategies to end youth homelessness.

Unaccompanied homeless youth present unique challenges to existing homeless assistance systems.  Most organizations are built around the needs of homeless adults and families – not unaccompanied young people. Homeless youth and young adults are at pronounced risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, chemical or alcohol dependency, and death.

Although the Alliance estimates that as many as 50,000 youth are sleeping on the streets, definitive data on youth homelessness does not yet exist.

With these limitations in mind, the Alliance recommends the following as strategies to end youth homelessness:

  • Early and intense intervention plus family reunification, if possible. Sometimes, youth simply need to be reconnected to their family and provided case management to resolve the internal conflict that led to homelessness. Other times, early and intense intervention by child welfare services or other public programs can help end youth homelessness.
  • An expansion of long-term housing options consistent with the developmental needs of young people. Unfortunately, some youth cannot be safely connected to adults and families and require a safe, alternative form of permanent housing, which should include the services and case management necessary to attend to their needs.
  • After-care support for youth aging out of foster care. Despite all that is not known, it is clear that the foster care system and other state-run institutions play a key role in youth homelessness. Young people aging out of the foster care system often do not have the resources to transition safety and productively into their communities. Life skills, including job training, higher or practical education, and needs-based case management are all necessary to help ease the way from foster care to adulthood.

Spotlight

Library Resources

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Solutions Brief | November 17, 2011
When runaways and homeless youth cannot be reunited with their families, the creation of housing models that also address the service needs of youth is one solution to ending youth homelessness. The goal of this brief is to outline a spectrum of youth housing models that connect affordable housing, self-sufficiency services, and positive youth development approaches. This brief examines youth housing combined with positive youth development services and highlights four housing models and programs that demonstrate promise in housing for older adolescents and young adults.
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Solutions Brief | November 15, 2011
It is commonly estimated that 100,000 children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation each year. In this brief, the Alliance examines the relationship between commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth homelessness.
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Best Practice | June 17, 2011
First Place for Youth is a nonprofit organization that serves youth who are preparing to age out of foster care or who have recently aged out of care and are experiencing a housing crisis.