Homeless Youth in America

Posted on: August 12th, 2011

In our country, homelessness has long been a problem. Increasingly, the median age of the millions of homeless Americans is getting younger. Youth Noise, an organization of young leaders striving to make a change, notes the following statistics:

  • 1.6 to 1.7 million people under 18 will experience homelessness each year. That’s more than the population of Philadelphia!
  • The National Coalition for the Homeless defines homeless youth as individuals under the age of eighteen who lack parental, foster, or institutional care.
  • 1 out of every 3 homeless people are under the age of 18.
  • Approximately half of all runaways were physically abused before fleeing home.
  • The majority of homeless and runaway youth are between the ages of 15 and 17, however three out of 100 runaways are under the age of 10, and 11 out of 100 are between the ages of 11 and 13.
  • Approximately half of all runaways were physically abused before fleeing home.
  • A third of all runaways will attempt suicide.
  • Homeless youth are up to ten times more likely to have or contract HIV than non-homeless adolescents.
  • A tenth of homeless and runaway females are reportedly pregnant.
  • This year, one in 260 runaways and homeless youths will die from assault, illness and suicide.

Of the many statistics available on youth homelessness, one troubling fact shines through. A majority of these homeless young people are LGBTQ. Many young people have trouble coming out to their families due to the fear that they will not be accepted. Some parents disapprove, some try to punish the child for coming out, and some turn abusive. Whatever the case, many teens leave home because of this reaction in search of a safe place to stay. When they find none, they become homeless.

Zebra Coalition hopes to bring this to a halt in the Central Florida community, and eventually nationwide. By helping temporarily house LGBTQ homeless youth and helping with transportation and job placement, the coalition is making a difference in these lives, one at a time.