U.S. Government sets goal to end youth homelessness in 10 years
The U.S. Department of Education reported that 53,000 homeless youth were supported through school-based programs last year, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development counted more than 22,000 young people in emergency or transitional housing in 2009. Another 110,000 youth are believed to be living on the streets. It is likely this is a serious underestimate of the total number of homeless youth, but the actual number of youth experiencing homelessness is unknown.
Youth can experience homelessness in a variety of ways – some youth are still connected with their families; others have left home as a result of a severe family conflict, which may include physical or sexual abuse. Some youth become homelessness after transitioning out of foster care or a juvenile justice facility.
Youth who are homeless can experience a variety of challenges, including academic difficulties, risky behavior, and health problems.
On June 22, 2010, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness: Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. One of the plan’s goals is to end homelessness for families, youth, and children in ten years.
To address these issues, Opening Doors includes an objective to advance health and housing stability for youth exiting foster care and juvenile justice systems. Youth who are discharged from these environments can be connected to educational opportunities, housing, health and behavioral health support, income supports, and health insurance coverage to assist their transition back into the community.
Opening Doors also includes a signature initiative targeting youth. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs will collaborate to develop and compile content, technical assistance, and federal resources related to homeless youth, and will share it with the public through youth.gov.