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April 2018Vol. 19, No. 3Handbook Explores Legal Options for Homeless Texas Youth

A new handbook informs homeless youth in Texas of their legal rights to safety and security and how to access housing and related social services. It also seeks to answer questions for those working with homeless youth, either in a professional or informal capacity.

The Homeless Youth Handbook: Legal Issues and Options|Texas notes that Texas Education Agency data show that 113,294 Texas youth experienced homelessness at some point during the 2014-2015 school year. The authors point out that this is likely a significant underrepresentation of the true number of homeless youth in Texas, as many children enrolled in school may not disclose their homelessness, and those not enrolled in school remain an "invisible" statistic. In addition, homeless youth in the 18-24 age range are learning to function as young adults with little or no financial or family support. The authors note that homeless youth tend to be resourceful and prefer to remain anonymous for fear of exploitation or perceived lack of authority.

The handbook explores a variety of issues that youth may have questions about beyond access to housing, including foster care, education, employment, public benefits, pregnancy and parenting, domestic violence, mental health and substance use, health care and medical rights, undocumented status, consumer credit, identity theft, and lawsuits.

The handbook is a joint project of the law firm Baker McKenzie, multinational corporation Weatherford International, and public interest group Texas Appleseed and is available at