1 in 10 young adults ages 18 to 25 and 1 in 30 adolescents experience homelessness over the course of a year in America. That's about 4.2 million people.
These sobering statistics come from the first comprehensive national study on the prevalence of youth homelessness in the United States.
The report, "Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America," was issued as part of the Voices of Youth Count, an initiative led by Chapin Hall at The University of Chicago.
It tells us that single parenting or pregnant young women are twice as likely to experience homelessness; young people who identify as LGBTQ have a 120% higher risk of being homeless; and young adults without a high school diploma or GED are more than three times as likely to be homeless.
"The research points to the benefits of addressing the specific needs of young people in these populations," said Paul W. Hamann, CEO and President of The Night Ministry. "At The Night Ministry, we are doing just that on a daily basis through our Youth Housing and Outreach Programs."
Keep reading to find out how The Night Ministry offers a lifeline to teens and young adults identified as being disproportionately at risk of experiencing homelessness.
According to the Voices of Youth Count, a third of homeless young women in Chicago and suburban Cook County are pregnant or parenting. Three of The Night Ministry's five Youth Housing Programs welcome such young people, with the Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program (RAPPP) dedicated solely to pregnant and parenting young mothers and their infants and toddlers. The only shelter in the city of Chicago that reserves beds for homeless parenting and pregnant mothers as young as 14, RAPPP provides 120 days of housing as well as a safe and nurturing environment that fosters stability and positive parenting skills.
Youth Outreach and The Crib
In Cook County, a quarter of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. All of The Night Ministry's youth programs affirm the gender identities and sexual orientations of those we serve. Our Youth Outreach Team connects with LGBTQ youth on the streets of Chicago, offering nonjudgmental support and identifying those who are at-risk of becoming homeless. In 2011, we opened The Crib, Chicago's first emergency overnight shelter for young adults ages 18 to 24. The Crib operates as a safe haven for many homeless LGBTQ youth, and today it is held up as a model for its LGBTQ-competent services.
More than a third of young adults ages 18 to 25 experiencing homelessness in Cook County lack a high school diploma or GED. And while homelessness and housing instability create barriers to academic achievement, we know that providing the space and resources that assist in the achievement of an education can help break the cycle of homelessness. Earlier this year, we opened the doors of a groundbreaking youth housing program. Phoenix Hall provides homeless students from Chicago's North Lawndale College Prep High School with a safe, stable residence while they pursue their academic goals. Residents can stay until they graduate, and they receive the supportive services in school, at Phoenix Hall, and in the community that help them obtain their high school diploma.
Serving on a Daily Basis
"Chapin Hall's research represents a significant step forward in understanding the scope and experience of youth homelessness in America," said Hamann. "At The Night Ministry, we continually examine the data we gather from our programs and listen to the young people we serve. It is in this way that we can meet homeless youth where they are at while offering them support to improve their lives on a daily basis."
You can find the report "Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America" at http://voicesofyouthcount.org/brief/national-estimates-of-youth-homelessness/?utm_source=November+2017+enewsletter&utm_campaign=November+2017+enewsletter&utm_medium=email