Today, Los Angeles, Austin, and Cleveland launch – with Rapid Results Institute – 100-day challenges to accelerate an end to youth homelessness in their communities. The energy we witnessed in Austin this week as all three communities gathered to set their goals and plans was inspiring. We are looking forward to seeing the innovative changes these cities implement.
As the 100 days go on, we will learn more about the systems these cities have put in place to address homelessness, and the challenges they face. But why youth, and why now?
A Way Home America, the campaign partnering with Rapid Results Institute on the 100-day challenges, says it best: we are at a critical time. Veteran and chronic homelessness are declining thanks to systemic shifts to Housing First and a federal and philanthropic focus. Many of the same solutions are being scaled to end homelessness among single individuals and families.
The next population to turn our attention to is youth. Finding solutions to end homelessness among young people presents unique challenges. The homeless system is so often focused on adults. Young people become homeless for a variety of reasons, some distinctive to people in their age group. Now is the time to focus our attention on how we can restructure our systems to prevent youth from becoming homeless, and make experiences of homelessness brief and one-time
How many young people are homeless?
Comprehensive data on youth homelessness has historically been lacking. Beginning in 2013 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began including youth ages 18-24 in their annual Point-in-Time counts.
In 2015, 46,808 young people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. This includes
- 36,907 unaccompanied youth — people under age 25 who are not accompanied by a parent or guardian and are not a parent with child.
- 9,901 parenting youth under 25 who are not in the company of someone over 24.
Of this total, 54.4 percent were sheltered and 45.6 percent were unsheltered, meaning they were living on the streets or somewhere unfit for human habitation. This is comparable to the number of single adults sheltered vs. unsheltered (55.8 percent sheltered, 44.2 percent unsheltered). A disproportionate number of young people experiencing homelessness, 38.5 percent, were African American.
These 100 days are just the beginning
We at the Alliance are excited to be a part of A Way Home America’s campaign to end youth homelessness. The drive Austin, Cleveland and Los Angeles have to get coordinated about their response is motivating. Follow along during the 100 Day Challenge on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll check in on our blog on day 50 and 100, so stay tuned!