Youth homelessness affects over 900 youth in King County every day.
Services available to youth are notably fewer than those available to other demographics experiencing homelessness. Youth and young adults (YYA) who experience homelessness disproportionately become our community’s chronically homeless adults. New Horizons exists to disrupt this cycle and end youth and young adult homelessness one young person at a time.
Homeless youth find themselves on the streets for a number of complex reasons often outside their control, contrary to common stereotypes.
Statistics show that certain minority demographics are over-represented among homeless youth, especially among youth of color and who identify as LGBTQ.
Though traumatic at any age, homelessness is especially damaging for youth living on the streets during crucial stages of development.
The Causes of Youth Homelessness
A common misconception is that youth on the streets are rebellious, headstrong runaways. The truth is that many youth leave home as a means of survival due to physical or sexual abuse. Others are forced to leave because of rifts between step-parents and children or parents who suffer from substance abuse problems. Youth often age out of foster care or leave juvenile corrections with no place to go. Left with little choice, these young people leave dangerous homes for dangerous streets and must figure out how to survive with almost no resources or relationships.
Nationally, over one in four youth who come out to their parents as LGBTQ are thrown out of their home. 33% of youth on the streets in King County identify as LGBTQ.
Roughly one in three youth on the streets in King County has been involved in foster care, sometimes living in 20+ homes by age 18.
43% of youth and young adults in King County report a history of domestic violence or abuse, and more frequently cite this abuse as the primary cause of homelessness than other homeless demographic groups.
The Demographics of Youth Homelessness
While nearly every demographic is present to some degree, two specific groups are noticeably over-represented among homeless youth populations both nationally and locally.
Twenty-seven percent of the homeless and unstably housed young people surveyed in King County earlier this year identified as LGBTQIA+, according to the 2018 Count Us In Report.
According to the same report, youth of color represent approximately 57% of homeless youths, despite people of color only accounting for 29% of King County’s total population.
11% of homeless youth report a disability.
43% do not have a high school diploma.
Average income at time of entry into the system is $196.
The 2020 Count Us In Report also found that of 955 homeless and unstably housed youth and young adults identified:
Being homeless has repercussions that can last well beyond a transition into sustainability. The more time a young person spends without a stable home, the more difficult success becomes in almost every area of their life, even after they’ve left the streets.
The streets make youth more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, increasing their risk of disease, injury, and death. Nationally, 19% of homeless youth have been victims of trafficking.
Homeless youth are 2.5x more likely to be arrested as adults when compared to their stably housed peers.
Homeless youth report higher rates of mental health symptoms, including depression, PTSD, and anxiety, resulting in increased risk for suicide attempts.
Learn how New Horizons partners with these young people on their journey off the streets.