The Abandoned Generation: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and Young Adults

While homelessness in the United States has decreased over the last decade, the number of young adults ages 18-24 years old experiencing homelessness has dramatically increased. In 2013, ASR conducted homeless counts with targeted youth outreach in 5 Northern and Central California counties.  In these 5 counties, counts showed that 25% of those experiencing homelessness were between the age of 18 and 24 years old.

ASR staff trained homeless youth to survey 500 other homeless youth about their lives. Findings showed: two-thirds of youth were male, 30% identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and 60% were from communities of color. Forty percent had less than a high school diploma. Most were living on the street (74%), not in shelters or transitional housing units. Nearly half reported they had been homeless for one year or more. A startling 28% had been in the foster care system.

Homeless youth are more likely to be the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators.  In fact, many youth experienced violence before homelessness and after homelessness. Thirty-eight percent of youth experienced physical abuse before homelessness, and 32% experienced it after they were homeless. While they were homeless, one in three youth (32%) had been physically attacked or assaulted.

Homeless youth typically don’t access services and they don’t have a safety net to fall back on, nearly half (47%) of youth said they didn’t have someone they could rely on in a time of crisis. For more information, please contact Samantha Green at Samantha@appliedsurveyresearch.org or 831-728-1356.