Youth experiencing homelessness are a rapidly growing part of the homeless population who often are challenged by personal trauma or sexual orientation.
Youth are the fastest growing segment of people experiencing homelessness and may be at greater risk of homelessness than any other age group. In 2014, 34% of people experiencing homelessness were under age 24, according to the report, 2014 Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Programs Homeless Populations and Subpopulations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – 2015 (PDF | 74.1 KB).
Many risk factors associated with youth homelessness are similar to those for adult homelessness. Poverty, mental and/or substance use disorders, and lack of educational or employment opportunities may all play a role. Family conflict and “aging out” of the foster care or juvenile justice systems also are risk factors for youth homelessness. Furthermore, youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT) disproportionately experience homelessness. Service delivery for this population is more likely to be successful if these factors are taken into account.
LGBT youth often experience trauma, such as harassment or violence, as a result of their sexual orientation or gender non-conformity. LGBT youth may encounter further harassment in shelters and on the streets. Providing safe, supportive, and welcoming environments for LGBT youth is essential for reaching this vulnerable population.
The Larkin Street Stories video series offers tips on best practices for providers serving LGBT youth who are experiencing homelessness.
- Episode 1: The Homeless LGBT Experience
- Episode 2: Confronting Hate Speech and Homophobia
- Episode 3: Neither/Nor: Working with Transgender Youth
Publications and Resources
Find more information on youth experiencing homelessness:
- Behavioral Health of Parents/Caregivers: Impact on Children in Child Welfare System – 2013
- Fighting to Live: Self-Esteem and Homeless Youth – 2014
- National Recommended Best Practices for Serving LGBT Homeless Youth from the National Alliance to End Homelessness – 2009
- Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Children and Youth Involved in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems – 2012
- Supporting Teen Mothers in Foster Care – 2015
Learn more about SAMHSA’s efforts to support LGBT individuals experiencing homelessness