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November 2023Vol. 24, No. 9Analyzing and Reducing Youth Homelessness

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness in America, the first brief in a series highlighting the challenges and opportunities faced by youth ages 14 through 24. The brief is part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Thrive by 25 efforts to promote basic needs, permanency connections, education and credentials, financial stability, and youth leadership among young people.

The brief analyzes and outlines youth homelessness in the United States, including its prevalence, risk factors, and effects. Homelessness among youth often occurs when systems are unable to resolve family conflict related to parental abuse or neglect, substance use, a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity, youth pregnancy, or other household challenges. In contrast, adult and family homelessness often stems from a lack of economic stability.

About 3.5 million young adults ages 18 to 25 and about 700,000 youth ages 13 to 17 experience some form of homelessness every year. This includes sleeping on the streets, in shelters, or couch surfing. These youth experiencing homelessness are more likely to experience threats to their health, safety, and well-being, such as missing school, struggling with mental health issues, substance use, being assaulted, being sexually assaulted, being trafficked, or resorting to survival crime.

The brief details recommendations for addressing youth homelessness:

  • Develop a unified definition of youth homelessness
  • Target funding to basic needs and other youth homelessness risks
  • Focus on prevention
  • Support cross-systems partnerships
  • Advance equity
  • Elevate youth voice
  • Transform the justice system response
  • Help young people leaving foster care prepare for adulthood

The brief is available on the Annie E. Casey website.