“I believe there are huge numbers of people in this country who would be willing to have radical changes in our economic and social system in order to make it a more egalitarian society and do away with homelessness and hunger and clean up the environment. But these people have no voice. They have no way of expressing themselves. Elections give them no way of expressing themselves.”

Howard Zinn

Every year, over a million kids in the US will face a period of homelessness, ranging from a day to the entire year.  On any given night, a quarter of the homeless population – 150,000 people – are children under the age of 18. Many of these kids are staying at youth shelters, others on friends’ couches, and many more on the streets.  These kids are homeless for a variety of reasons, including being kicked out of the home by parents, lack of employment opportunities, lack of healthcare, disabilities, substance abuse, social exclusion and domestic violence.

In case after case, however, the main cause of youth homelessness is physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse from parents or guardians. More than 50 percent of the youth on the street site physical or sexual abuse as a major contributing factor to their homelessness.  With this type of trauma and conditioning, the odds are stacked against these kids to make it off the street and into stable living situations. More than 25 percent of adolescents aging out of foster care become homeless within 2 years after leaving the system.

The reality for homeless youth is not pretty.  57 percent of homeless kids spend at least a day each month without food.  20,000 are forced into prostitution by human trafficking networks each year.  One population especially susceptible to injustice is the LGBTQ community. There are currently no federal programs specifically designed to meet the needs of gay and transgender homeless youth, and there are no protections in place to keep gay and transgender youth from being discriminated against while accessing federally funded homeless services.  These young people are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness. While only 7 percent of the youth in the US identify as LGBTQ, this population comprises 40 percent of the youth experiencing homelessness.  Again, there are no federal programs designed to combat this growing issue.

It is paradoxical for a youth-oriented culture to permit such an epidemic of youth homelessness.  It says something different about our society than any other sub-section of homelessness. This ultra-capitalist model — this “you’re on your own, kid” mentality — is the foundation of our society.  Every person for themselves – no longer do we protect women and children. We forget that these children are the future of this country.

https://truecolorsfund.org/our-issue/ https://www.safehorizon.org/get-informed/homeless-youth-statistics-facts/#description/ http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/homeless-and-runaway-youth.aspx  http://nationalhomeless.org/issues/youth/