By Jim Theofelis, A Way Home Washington
For years, youth homelessness advocacy has been held back by the lack of reliable data showing the true scope of the problem. Without actual numbers, it’s difficult to determine what we definitively need to solve youth homelessness – and it is solvable.
This week, that changed. The University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall released the first results of a long-awaited study called the Voices of Youth Count. This study provides the first ever academically defensible numbers for youth homelessness in America.
With these numbers, A Way Home Washington and our partners in the state and across the country finally have real statistics that we can point to about the pervasive problem of youth and young adult homelessness.
Some of the key findings include:
- An estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness in our country in a given year. That’s 1 in 10 of 18-25 year-olds and 1 in 30 of 13-17 year-olds.
- This is equally a rural and an urban problem.
- Youth of color, pregnant and parenting youth, and LGBTQ+ youth experience homelessness at a higher rate
The national data confirms what we’ve known on the state level. In Washington, youth and young adults are homeless in every county of the state, with about 13,000 accessing homeless services.
Chapin Hall provides many great national policy recommendations that we will be building on here in Washington with the state’s Office of Homeless Youth and our many partners. The recent 100 Day Challenges have shown us that young people will respond to outreach if a community has quality, safe services available, and that a focus on equity is critical given the disproportionate representation of youth of color and LGBTQ youth.
With the results from this study and the 100 Day Challenges in mind, we will continue to be in touch with news about our policy agenda for the 2018 Legislative Session and other new exciting programs. With your help, we can and will end youth homelessness in Washington.