Tag Archives: homeless youth

How many homeless youth are there?

How many Kids are Homeless?

There is a  Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report to Congress with information on this subject titled Runaway and Homeless Youth: Demographics, Programs, and Emerging Issues which was published in January 2007.  This link is to their 37 page report. 

I think they are being honest when they say this:

The precise number of homeless and runaway youth is unknown due to their residential mobility and overlap among the populations. Determining the number of these youth is further complicated by the lack of a standardized methodology for counting the population and inconsistent definitions of what it means to be homeless or a runaway.

Estimates of the homeless youth population range from 52,000 to over one million.  Estimates of runaway youth – including “thrownaway” youth – are between 1 million and 1.7 million.

Part of the problem of counting homeless youth is that they often avoid shelters and more or less hide in inaccessable areas where they avoid counters.  Some hide out with friends, others take to the woods and alleys, even the rails.  You may have seen an earlier post of mine (Homeless Youth Project) where loose groups of homeless youth ride the rails around the country.  Youth that do come into contact with census counters are reluctant to admit that they are homeless.    

The 52,000 to over 1 million estimates are based on a series of counting attempts through the decades.    A 1987 GAO report estimated 52,000 to 170,000 homeless on any one night.  CDC’s 1992 National Health Interview Survey of youth ages 12 to 17 determined that 5% of those they surveyed had been homeless during some part of the prior year.  That estimate came to more than a million youth that experienced homelessness during that year.

The latest federal survey was conducted by NISMART – (National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children) which was conducted in 1999.  That study found that 1.8 million youth under age 18 left home or were asked to leave home in 1999 (at some time during the year). 

The NISMART-2 study for 1999 shows that:

1.8 million youth under age 18 experienced homelessness

68% were between the ages of 15 and 17 (1,224,000)

32% were 14 or younger (612,000) 

20% reported sexual abuse in the home (360,000)

33% reported family conflict in the home (600,000)

there were about an equal number of males and females

57% were White, 17% Black, 15% Hispanic

about 11,000 were runaway foster children

more than half left home for more than 1 to 6 days

30% traveled 1 to 10 miles from home

30% traveled 11 to 50 miles from home

nearly 99% were returned to their homes

That leaves more than 18,000 that never came back that year.

Another study, reported by Jan Moore,  Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth Review of Literature (1995-2005)  ,  reported 1 million to 1.3 million homeless youth.   I reported on this study earlier, see How many of the Homeless are Youth? 

Also see a forum report I presented in 2006 on the Cobb Faith Partnership site titled:  Homelessness Among Children and Youth – Basic Facts in which 1.35 million homeless children are reported homeless in a given year, according to the National Law Center.    The numbers seem to be centering around 1.3 million with a spread of 300,000 either way.   I feel that the numbers probably fluctuate wildly on any given day in any given year, much like trying to get the average level of a raging river.

Factors Influencing Homelessness and Leaving Home:  Youth most often cite family conflict as the major reason for their homelessness or episodes of running away. A literature review of homeless youth found that a youth’s relationship with a step-parent, sexual activity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, school problems, and alcohol and drug use were strong predictors of family discord.  14% of Foster kids that age out of the system experience homelessness the first year and 25% at sometime overall.   Another report shows 20%.

Of those callers who used the National Runaway Switchboard (a federally-sponsored call center for youth and their relatives involved in runaway incidents) one third attributed family conflict as the reason for their call.  Runaway and homeless youth also describe abuse and neglect as common experiences.  Over 20% of youth in the NISMART-2 reported being physically or sexually abused at home in the prior year
or feared abuse upon returning home.

Congress has funded 102 million dollars for three federal funded programs:

Basic Center Program: To provide outreach, crisis intervention, temporary shelter, counseling, family unification, and after care services to runaway and homeless youth under age 18 and their families.

Transitional Living Program: To support projects that provide homeless youth ages 16 to 21 with stable, safe longer-term residential services up to 18 months (or longer if the youth has not reached age 18), including counseling in basic life skills, interpersonal skills building, educational advancement, job attainment skills, and physical and mental health care. 

Street Outreach Program: To provide street-based outreach and education, including treatment, counseling, provision of information, and referrals for runaway, homeless, and street youth who have been subjected to or are at risk of being subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation.

Those are the facts on homeless youth, the best that I can report at this time.   You can select whatever set of data suits your purpose, but it appears the most current data comes in somewhere between 1 and 1.8 million kids that experience homelessness in any given year, centering around 1.3 million youth.  

There is no good estimate as to how many that amounts to on any given night, but if you are one of those kids, it is way too many. 

Those are our kids out there

Some Special Links:

Click to see all Oldtimer Speaks Out homeless youth articles (35 so far).

Click here if you came here to find Oldtimer’s articles on Homeless Veterans (75 so far)

Grace and Peace,

Oldtimer

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A Few Street Kids

Wikipedia defines “street children” this way:

Street children or street urchins are homeless children who live on the street – in particular, those that are not taken care of by parents or other adults. Street children live in abandoned buildings, containers, automobiles, parks, or on the street itself.

That is in contrast to children that are homeless that are living in shelters or taking refuge with friends or relatives.    Below are a few pictures of street kids taken by various photographers around this country who have posted them under a creative commons license.

Market Street, San Francisco

Photo complements of davitydave Photo taken on Market Street, San Francisco.  Creative Commons License   Find it Here

Haight Street San Francisco

Photo Complements of kristiewells Photo taken on Haight Street San Francisco.  Creative Commons License   Find it Here

kristiewells says this about the photo: “We gave them our leftovers from Pork Store Cafe. I asked if I could take their picture which they said was OK, but they were so happy to be eating, I didn’t want to disturb them to get a better photo. ”

Homeless in Austin Texas
Photo Courtesy of  dground Photo taken on Sixth Street in Austin Texas Creative Commons License  Find it Here

Homeless in Minnesota

Photo from The Epoch Times, Minnesota

They had this to say about the picture and runaway kids:

According to a recent statewide survey of homeless people in Minnesota, conducted by the Wilder Research Center, for most youths, going back to live with their parents is not a viable solution. Their homeless plight started as a result of their parents. Fearing their chemically dependent or physically or sexual abusive parents, many youths would rather endure the life on the streets than return home. Many have already lived in foster care, detention or treatment centers.

Dave Eha, a 21-year-old homeless youth for the last six months said, “For many out here, it isn’t like a choice. You would hear all the time how someone was molested or physically abused. Many of the kids are forced to become homeless or else live in an abusive situation.”

The Wilder Research report found that homeless kids were:

Five times more likely to have been treated for alcohol or drug problems, although homeless youths are half as likely to report current use of alcohol.

More than three times more likely to have been hit by a date or intimate partner.

Three times more likely to have been physically abused

For girls, 20 times more likely to have been pregnant; for boys 10 times more likely to have had a sexual relationship that resulted in pregnancy.

Youth of color are three to four times more prevalent among the homeless.

Come ON folks, these could have been your kids.

Find a way to help.

Oldtimer

Homeless Youth Project

Homeless Youth Project 

Early on in this blog I wrote a number of articles on homeless youth,  but lately I have written mostly about homeless veterans and also PTSD among veterans.   All of these areas are under-served.   If you do a tag click on “homeless youth”, you will find that despite not having written anything on our youth since August 7th, 27 of the 28 posts that are brought up by WordPress were written by me.   No one seems to care about our youth and few about our homeless veterans.   Well, I care.

I’ve noticed a lot of visitors lately looking at my earlier posts on homeless youth and realized that I’ve been neglecting that area.   I’ve written 32 posts on homeless youth and 72 on homeless veterans, but nothing on the youth lately.   I’ll try to keep this more balanced.  If anyone else wants to jump in and blog about either subject you will be most welcome, since the object here is to shine as much light as possible so someone somewhere with a little clout will put up some muscle and really help.

Homeless Youth  

Photo by Mike Brodie, see link below

Below is an interesting video, actually a slide show set to music and above is a shot from that video taken off of the photographer’s website.  I don’t know whether the person that put it in slide show (realstraycat)  with music is associated with the photographer or not, but I recognized the pictures immediately.  The photographer is a homeless youth himself, having taken most of these pictures with a beat-up old Polaroid camera made in the 1970s.   Simply amazing photos though.

Mike Brodie, the Polaroid Kidd, photographed these pictures which are part of a touring exhibition – “Brodie left home at 18 to travel the rails across America, and found himself spending three years photographing the friends and companions he encountered with a Polaroid SX-70 camera.

“Photography has made me what I am. It pulls me in all directions. It gives and takes friends, and pushes me to move miles and miles. My desire to photograph these people in the beginning is what led me to develop such great relationships with them; some being relationships that will last clear on ’til the day I die. I’m really lucky ’cause I never used to be this social.”

Brodie’s pictures are authentic and show the beauty of some of America’s most overlooked people. These are images captured by a member of the tribe and through a sympathetic lens.” 

The music in the video is moody and sad, as it should be.  The pictures are captivating, nothing risque, but telling the truth:  There is nothing glamorous about being a homeless kid or homeless young adult.  Moments of fun maybe, but mostly misery and danger – always danger. Freedom to eat what you can find, sleep where you dare, fight for your coat and shoes, and hope that somehow you will survive long enough to grow up. 

Traveling together is a form of protection from sexual predators and other gangs, an almost communal way to share needs, food, clothes, survival, and a way to share street smarts that were learned the much too hard way.

realstraycat

Here is a link to some of Mike Brodie’s still photos if you want to see them in all their glory.   Street kids, mostly traveling on the railroad, panhandling on the streets or hanging out in makeshift shacks in the woods.   Beautiful and telling photography.  My Polaroids never looked like these.

Here are some links you may be interested in:

 Homeless Youth – Some Random Facts that May Scare You

Homelessness Among Children and Youth – Basic Facts 

How many of the Homeless are Youth?

Link to all Homeless Youth Articles by Oldtimer

Oldtimer

Homeless Youth

“Why Would Someone Chose Homeless” – Homeless 17 Year Old Girl

Meet “Alice”, Homeless Girl now 17 in Canada

Her words (she went homeless before 16) – She is older than her days:

“Why would someone choose to be transient or homeless? The world is a vast, ruined empire- It is void of any true meaning with all our responsibilities being entirely superficial, and we have created imaginary borders and priced things that belong to no one such as our land. The surrounding materialism weighs us down, makes us weary: It is a distraction that is malignant.

“Being homeless is an entirely separate dimension from this society, an alternate community- There is a completely different set of rules, way of life, and sense of normality. Once you have adjusted to homelessness, it can be very difficult to turn around and work your way back into the ‘Real World’; it becomes frustrating and lonely when you have to abide by a new social code and people are intolerant of your mannerisms.

“It’s like walking into a new country where you know nothing of the current customs, are baffled by people’s beliefs and gestures, and are confused by the tongue spoken. At a time, you just want to break free and separate yourself: You want to listen to your heart, and not found yourself on stability or comfort.

“There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you walk away from your home with nothing but what’s in your pockets, and with no intention of returning.

“When homeless or transient, especially when you’re on drugs, life becomes a journey rather than an endless cycle. You lose your sense of time, not knowing the date and having only a vague idea of what stage of day it is; you spend your money on your present needs and desires rather than on future possibilities. When you’re high, it’s all about the small things in life; there’s no interest in the future and no care for the bigger picture. No one and nothing, yet everyone and everything, is cool. You’re content with no yearning desires. Life is all about warm, sunny afternoons on the cliff admiring the view and soaking in the calm, altogether uninhibited, and liberated on crack rocks- Free to speak your mind with no prejudices, free to be with no boundaries.

“However, I would support (the assertion) that children don’t become homeless merely because they dislike school or their family rules; rather, I think there is a much larger picture. Any kind of sufferance can be deepened when you love and care for the person hurting you; fear and confusion in childhood can make a claustrophobic teenager; and boredom can result in frustration and anxiety.

“Life on the streets is without any doubt a constant struggle and the average youngster would return home to comfort rather than hold out on the street if he didn’t have a strong and viable reason. His home and his life would have to represent a lot of pain and anger to keep him away for long; and he would have to have deep-rooted feelings of hatred and fear of the system to keep him there.

“Children who have been abused and neglected, then let down by their social workers and teachers, as well as nurses and police officers; children who have been drained through years of needless counselling then tossed from hospital to hospital like a nun; children who were kept isolated, then were physically and emotionally hurt when they attempted to connect.”

The above is a copy of a post by “Alice” which is not even her real screen name, but she is a real homeless person, trying to tell us a little about what it is like.   It may give you at least a little insight into the thinking of a young homeless girl. 

There are places to call, such as the National Runaway Switchboard or 2-1-1 anywhere in the country.   The link to the NRS is in the right column.  The idea is to get these youngsters help before they run away or get thrown away.   If your child is at risk or harboring a friend that would be on the streets without your help, get professionals involved… NOW.

Kids are out there too…

Do you hear a cry for help?

Click for all Homeless Youth Articles

Click for all Homeless Veteran Articles

Oldtimer

Im a 16 year old run away

Im a 16 year old run away

Giff of Runaway SwitchboardThis is the text of a message to the National Runaway Switchboard. They have a switchboard at Call 1-800-RUNAWAY. It happened on Jan 12, 2007. Find this cry for help here:

Im a 16 year old run away.
Its been exactly a week since ive been home. I ran away because i had so much abuse going on. The physical abuse had stopped about a year ago but the mental abuse is what kills me inside. Here is the background story in nutshell…about 5 years ago my parents got a divorce. It turned out that the dad i knew my entire life wasnt my dad. My mom made me completely lose contact with them.

About a year later my now step dad was introduced to us. The moment i met him i didnt like him. We didnt get along and eventually we hated each other. He began to hit me and when i was 14 years old he left me my first mark. It was about five inches long and an inch and a half wide on the back of my left leg. He got me with the belt becuase he had thought i was rollerblading through the house.

From there he just never stopped with the hitting and pushing. I called CPS atleast 6 times but none of them were taken seriously. We just recently moved and he had stopped hitting me but moved on to hurting me mentally, which affects me so much more. Im constantly being blamed for everything that happens: its my fault that the family argues, its my fault that everything is wrong, its my fault that the family isnt perfect etc.. I also get told that im so disrespectful, i dont give back to the family, im useless, that life would be better without me, they cant wait until im 18 to move out, im soooo close to getting kicked out, and just basically saying im a no body and they are better off without me.

But the facts are: im a strait A student, im always overachieving at everything i do, and im probably the most giving person in my family. Im getting into trouble for little things and punished to the maximum. I get into trouble for leaving water spots in the sink, not having the vacuum marks on the floor, or fingerprints on the mirrors when im cleaning. The consequences are horrible. I get my posters ripped down, my ipod, cellphone, tv, stereo, and everything taken away. I think its just cruel and unusual punishments…right?

Well, the past couple of months i had started to doubt myself: “What if i am useless?”, “What is my purpose in this family, in this world?” I completely stopped doing my school work, i ditched classes, something i would NEVER do!!! Things got so bad that i started having this weird crying attacks every night. I got tired of cutting myself so i started to burn my hands. They are so messed up and im scarred for life. I ran away becuase i had gotten scared of my step dad. I was doing laundry but didnt have time to finish in time for work so some clean clothes were left unfolded on my bed.

My phone started to get blown up with texts saying that that day was my last day working, my step dad was coming to get me from work just to fold my clothes, and to be prepared when i had got home. I had gone home, but this time EVERYTHING was out of my room: TV, stereo, posters, and my good stuff and i was left with nothing but my bed, a pillow, a blanket, and my dresser. I didnt have anymore diaries, jewelery, little things that teenagers have…it was all thrown away!!!

I didnt know what was ganna happen the next day when my step dad would wake up. I was crying so bad. I took my little sisters phone and ran to the back yard and called my friend. I told her everything and she told me she would get me. I ran away in my pjs and slippers. Ive been jumping around to different houses. I miss my family and friends and i want to be back home.

Also, I want to file for emancipation but i LOVE LOVE LOVE my family, just not my step dad…he ruined my life!!! I gave everything because im so confused about what to do. Do i go home??? Do i contact my family??? Do i need to get emancipated??? What do i do??? Please help me!!!!

Kids are out there too…

Do you hear that cry for help?

Check out the Runaway Switchboard.  There is a link in the blogroll to the right and at the beginning of this post.  If you know of a troubled teen, get help immediately.

Click for all Homeless Youth Articles

Click for all Homeless Veteran Articles

Or go to the “Front Page” link above the banner for all posts

Thank you for caring,

Oldtimer

Las Vegas Homeless Youth Survey

More than 1,700 kids homeless in Vegas

The data for this post came from this news story:  Las Vegas Homeless Youth Survey

 A survey of homeless youth in Las Vegas in 2006 revealed that of the 1700 kids living in Vegas:

75-percent are between the ages of 15 and 17.
25-percent were born in Las Vegas.
66-percent have parents still living in the valley.

Runaways – One out of three homeless teens say they left home to escape physical, sexual or mental abuse. 

Throwaways – More than one out of five were kicked out by their parents

Gangs – More than a third are involved with gangs.

                                                                                                          

 Love, Pure Love

It is so very unfortunate that so many kids find the streets more hospitable than their homes.   It is a rough life out there and most kids don’t know what they are getting into.  Many do go back home, and too many are driven away again.   What they want is love, what they get is trouble.  They have a love well that is empty, and what they often find is what they left, someone digging that well deeper rather than filling it up.

Parents seldom recognize that a child might actually run away rather than just threaten.  

 I can tell you this:  when a child shows any emotional signs of distress or rebellion or becomes surly and possibly depressed, it is time to turn on the love.  Pure love, no comments, no criticism, no questions, no reaction to anything the child says other than love.  A big hug, a giant hug, a verbal commitment:  “I love you son.”  “I’m here for you son.” 

Meet them at the door with a hug, see them off with a hug, give no response to cutting remarks other than “I love you.”  

If your child begins to taunt you and you snap back in kind or threaten, then you are driving a wedge that will be hard to remove.   The only answer to taunts is love – nothing said other than “I love you son” or “I love you daughter”.   In less than two days, your child will come around.   Their first reaction is to stare, then to test, then to question, then to melt.  

Love, pure love is the answer.

More on this later.  I have a first person account for you.

Oldtimer

Click for all homeless youth articles

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Or here for everything

National Stats for Runaway Youth

The National Runaway Switchboard provides education and solution-focused interventions, offers non-sectarian, non-judgmental support, respects confidentiality, collaborates with volunteers, and responds to at-risk youth and their families 24 hours a day.    Call 1-800-RUNAWAY
National Runaway Switchboard http://www.nrscrisisline.org/
(Statistics reflect only actual crisis calls – nationwide)
Adult calls ….. 1038
Youth calls …..15126
Total calls ….. 16164
Youth Status at Time of Call

    Contemplating running away…..12%
    Youth in crisis ………………..32%
    *Runaway ………………..48%
    *Throwaway ………………..4%
    *Homeless ………………..4%
    **Youth on the street ….. 56%

Reported Age Of Caller

    under 12 …..1%
    12 ………. 2%
    13 ………. 6%
    14 ………. 9%
    15 ………. 15%
    16 ……….21%
    17 ……….23%
    18 ……….10%
    19 ……….. 6%
    20 ……….. 4%
    21 ………. 3%
    Youth previously run (yes) …. . 32%
    youth previously run (no) ………. 44%
    unknown ………………………………..24%

Problems Identified by Callers

    Family Dynamics ..29%
    Peer/Social ……………… 14%
    School/Education ……..10%
    Mental Health …………. .. 9%
    Physical Abuse ……… … 6%
    Youth Services ……….. . . 5%
    Alcohol/Drug Use …… …5%
    Economics ……………….. 4%
    Emotional/Verbal Abuse 4%
    Judicial System ………….3%
    Transportation ……………….3%
    Health ………………………… 3%
    Sexual Abuse/Assault …..2%
    Neglect ……………………………2%
    GLBTQ …………………………..1%

Whereabouts of Youth Who is the Subject

    Home ………………….29%
    Unknown to Caller ….. 23%
    Friend ……………………..17%
    Relative ……………………..6%
    Street/Pay Phone ………6%
    Shelter ……………………..3%
    Other …………………………3%
    Unknown to Liner ……..3%
    Greyhound ………………..2%
    Recent Acquaintance …2%
    Police/Detention …………2%
    School ………………………..2%
    Work ……………………………1%
    Pimp/Dealer ………………..1%

(Example) Calls from Georgia, local area codes follow
Area ………….calls
Code
404 GA ….. 1053 calls in 2006
678 GA ……..320
770 GA ……. 578

Click for All Homeless Youth Articles