Homelessness amongst the Youth

Homelessnessamongst the Youth

Homelessnesshas been described as the situation where an individual or a group ofpeople lack a regular dwelling. This definition varies from onecountry to another. However, the main characteristics associated withthis condition include the inability to afford proper, safe, secureand adequate housing. Apparently, those people who live in homelessshelters, cardboard shelters, and other ad hoc living situations arealso considered homeless. Statistics from government institutionsprovide data concerning the rate of homelessness. The most affectedgroups include the veterans, immigrants, victims of violence andthose with economic problems. Destitution is now a big problem, andprevious data shows that in 2005, close to 100 million people were inthis group [ CITATION Yum09 l 1033 ].The youth, in particular, are more vulnerable to this conditionespecially the foreigners, immigrants and those of African-Americandescent. Although there are programs that provide food, shelter andclothing, the problem is still rampant, and it requires thecooperation between the government, churches, non-governmentalorganizations and individual donors. The affected people must alsocome together and look for other ways of improving their conditions.This paper looks at the causes of homelessness amongthe youth and the strategies that may be applied to address the same.

Causesof Homelessness

Homelessnessamong children and youth has become rampant in the contemporaryworld. More than 1.5 million children and 1.6 million youth live inconditions that lack fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence[ CITATION Yum09 l 1033 ].This data is valid for other countries and states since the problemsencountered are almost the same throughout. Various reasons have ledto these challenges, and they include the following:

Physical,social and emotional abuse

Ahuge number of the homeless youths have either suffered physical andverbal violence in their families before they move out. Violencewhich happens at home affects the emotional, and psychological issueshave pushed the young one to flee from their homes. Prolongedviolence, in the end, leads to traumatic experiences and forces themto escape from the uncomfortable experiences. Violence may notnecessarily be direct. In some cases, when the youth witness bouts ofphysical abuse between parents and siblings, it leads to this runawaybehavior. Sexual assault also plays a significant role in theincreasing numbers of children and youth on the streets and in thehomeless shelter. Rape cases have led to a rise in the young peopleand children and most of the people who are homeless have had ahistory related to sexual abuse as well as emotional abuse. Neglectand lack of adequate parental care is a factor that contributes toemotional stress compelling the individuals to look for a place wherethey can achieve peace of mind and acceptance. Young people who haveundergone all these problems usually have a tendency to increase thelikelihood of negative growth and developmental outcomes, forinstance, rebellion, low self-esteem, inability to form trustingrelationships and social bonds, depression, suicidal tendencies andrunning away from their homes. Sometimes this act of getting as faraway as possible from one’s home may be initiated by the parents orguardians themselves [ CITATION Bil09 l 1033 ].


Livingin poverty has a detrimental impact on the educational and the healthoutcome of individuals. As such many young people who end up stayinghomeless have had a poor background. The effects of poverty beginfrom far off. For instance, an individual who is living animpoverished life cannot afford good food and a decent education.Consequently providing suitable housing is also a huge problem.Additionally, a weak person cannot have access to employment due tolack of knowledge and it may force them to engage in casual laborwith meager pay. Children born into such families are affected mostsince they may be obliged to fend for themselves at a very early age.When they eventually fell old enough, they go out to seek for betterpastures instead of staying at home doing nothing. The moment youngpeople try to find new economic opportunities in far off places, theabsence of such opportunities leads to homelessness. At times,poverty may be linked to other social factors such as discrimination,parental or youth addiction to drugs and substances as well asdisruptive events such as the death of the parents or the guardians(Gaetz, 2009).


Twoof the most experienced social exclusion factors includediscrimination and homophobia. The major aspect of discrimination isracism which is still rampant in some parts of the world. Apparently,this example of social exclusion reduces to a large degree the accessof young people to employment, education, and healthcare and othersocial services and amenities that they may require. Also, the legalsystem nay is unfavorable and can lead to poverty and ultimatelyhomelessness. According to Saewyc et al., (2006), 20-30% of the youthwho are homeless are either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.Those who exhibit such behavior are more likely to undergostigmatization not only at home but also in schools, religiouscongregations, communities and the entire public sphere at large. Thediscrimination is usually accompanied by violence and other forms ofphysical and emotional abuse making those affected to flee to thestreets [ CITATION Sae06 l 1033 ].

Strategiesto Address Homelessness

Thereasons that have led to homelessness among the youth population havebeen discussed in details above. There are several ways in which theissue of destitution can be handled, and it involves various groupsincluding the government, religious groups, individual donors andcharity organizations. The following two strategies can be employed.

Educationand Employment

Self-sustenanceis a vital aspect that may ultimately reduce the homeless population.The creation of meaningful and sustainable employment can be achievedby first beginning with education. Increased skills and knowledgefoster higher eligibility to well-paying jobs. Targeted trainingprograms and increased employment opportunities will also be vital inproviding access to the right sources of income. In this regard, thegovernment has to generate programs that are specifically targeted tothe youth and children by connecting them to the resources that areavailable locally. At times, children and young people who are agingdo not need to continue depending on the foster home. On thecontrary, such groups should be helped to attain secondary education,college education and also assisted in getting jobs as they plan tomove out of foster care. Teaching and employment can be best achievedby putting in place policies and guidelines that prioritize thebenefits of providing disadvantaged youths with opportunities andaccess to resources to help them and also to reduce the baggage ofsupporting them. These strategies include funding programs foreducation, provision of vocational training and education servicesand also linkage to companies, institutions, and organizations thatmay need the human resource that fits the learned skills of thisgroup [ CITATION Yum09 l 1033 ].

Healthcareand Housing

Housingprograms can be applied ranging from building and maintainingadequate residential places to ensuring that these accommodations areaffordable. However, the establishment of this program requires theinput of those being assisted by taking part in maintaining thecleanliness and structure of the houses. Additionally, the residencehas to take the initiative to plan, budget, shop, and prepare themeals. In this way, a sense of ownership is developed and fostersinvolvement. At times, homeless shelters provide a loophole for drugtrafficking and alcohol use. Conflicts may also in the process. Theseproblems call for affirmative action to curb the issues as soon aspossible by organizing discussion programs and forums where localauthorities are informed and work hand in hand to alleviate theissues. Housing subsidies can also help in improving housingstability and a sense of belonging. Regarding healthcare, putting inplace community-based services that address mental problems isessential. Also, screening for homeless children and youth andprovision of treatment and counseling improves their sanitaryconditions. Lastly, it is equally important to provide nutritiousfood in adequate amounts as well as establishing nutrition centers,offering supplements to young children [ CITATION Yum09 l 1033 ].


Homelessnessis a big problem that has negative implications both for theindividuals, the community and also the state. While it may not beeasy to eradicate homelessness all at once, the strategieshighlighted above can be applied gradually albeit in an efficientmanner. Everyone involved in the process has important roles to play.While the government and organizations provide the means, theaffected population has to cooperate with the rules and regulationswhile at the same time being eager to improve their living status.Taking care of the children and youth will ultimately facilitatebetter livelihoods and develop the general economy and health of theentire population. This group makes up the larger portion of thepopulation and thus the need to uphold their interests.


Aratani, Y. (2009). Homeless Children and Youth: Causes and Consequences. Columbia: National Center for Children in Poverty.

Gaetz, B. O. (2009). Why do Young People Become Homeless? Retrieved from The Homeless Hub: http://homelesshub.ca/resource/why-do-young-people-become-homeless

Saewyc, M. S. (2006). Hazards of Stigma: the Sexual and Physical Abuse of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Adolescents in the United States and Canada. Child Welfare.