11 Causes of Teen Homelessness

Primary Causes

The primary causes of homelessness among youth are: family conflict or severe economic hardship.

Foster Care

Studies estimate that 20% of youth who arrive at shelters came directly from foster care, and more than 25% had been in foster care in the previous year. These youth age out of the foster care system and are discharged with no housing or income support. Find out more about foster care or read about Do Something's 2007 Brick Winner Ashley Rhodes-Courter, who did something about foster care.

Prison/Juvenile Corrections System

For youth who are released from juvenile corrections facilities, many become homeless because they lack support systems and opportunities for work and housing.

Abuse

Some homeless youth have run away from homes where they were the victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. One study reports that more than 4 in 10 youth report being beaten by a caretaker, and a quarter were either sexually abused or feared being sexually abused.

Substance Abuse in the Home

Others are running away from alcohol and drug abuse in the home. More than 40% of homeless youth report that one or both of their parents had at some point received treatment for alcohol, drug, or psychological problems.

Substance Abuse by Youth

A number are homeless because of their own addictions to drugs and/or alcohol. One study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment contends that 85% of homeless youth have substance use disorders.

Pregnancy

A large number of homeless young women either ran away or were kicked out of the home due to pregnancy. A tenth of homeless and runaway girls are reportedly pregnant.

Sexual Orientation

Other homeless youth are forced to leave home because of their sexual orientation. As many as 25% of LBGT teens are rejected by their families, and many end up homeless on the streets.

Unaffordable Housing

There are homeless youth that are employed but still can’t afford rent, food and other basic needs.

Neglect

Neglect and lack of emotional and financial support from their families can also cause youth homelessness.

Mental Illness

Mentally ill youth may end up homeless because they don’t have access to supportive housing and/or other treatment services.

Lead games for homeless children. GO

Sources:
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Alliance to End Homelessness "
My Friends Place