Other Youth Topics


  1. Youth Topics
  2. Homelessness and Housing Instability
  3. Rates of Homelessness

Rates of Homelessness

Due to variations in the definition, time frame, and age range used, the number of youth who have experienced homelessness varies significantly. Estimates suggest that as many as 4.2 million youth and young adults (700,000 youth ages 13–17 and 3.5 million youth ages 18–25) are homeless within the United States each year.1

Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness

  • On a single night in January 2023, 34,703 unaccompanied youth were experiencing homelessness in the United States.2

  • Unaccompanied youth make up 22 percent of all people under the age of 25 who are experiencing homelessness.3

  • According to the 2023 Point-In-Time count data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), approximately four in 10 unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness were unsheltered.4

  • Twenty-four percent of unaccompanied youth staying in shelters who accessed homelessness services were survivors of domestic violence in 2021, and almost 8 percent were currently fleeing domestic violence.5

Youth Experiencing Homelessness with Families

  • In 2023, 186,084 people in families (at least one adult and one dependent under 18) were counted as experiencing homelessness in a single night, which is 29 percent of the total population of people experiencing homelessness. Of those, approximately nine in 10 were sheltered.6

  • According to data collected for the Family Options Study, sponsored by HUD, 20 months after a shelter stay, 65 percent of the families were in their own housing unit, often with housing assistance. Yet experiences of housing instability were still common. Nineteen percent of the adolescents were in families that had been in a shelter or in a place not meant for human habitation at some time during the past 6 months, and 23 percent of the families had “doubled up” with another household at some time during that period. In one year, 25 percent of the families had returned to an emergency shelter for one or more nights.7

Runaway Youth

  • A 2023 National Center for State Legislatures report indicates that 7 percent of youth, or 1.5 million children and adolescents, run away each year.8

  • Youth who run away from home multiple times are at increased risk of experiencing homelessness.9


Voices of Youth Count  
This webpage from Chapin Hall provides up-to-date infographics and reports on data related to youth and homelessness, along with related topics such as education, parenting, and LGBT youth. 

Family Options Study  
This multisite random assignment experiment was designed to study the impact of various housing and services interventions for homeless families. The webpage offers information on the research design, reports, and data from the ongoing study.  

Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) 
The AHAR is a HUD report to the U.S. Congress that provides nationwide estimates of homelessness, including information about the demographic characteristics of homeless persons, service use patterns, and the capacity to house homeless persons. The report is based on Homeless Management Information Systems data about persons who experience homelessness during a 12-month period, point-in-time counts of people experiencing homelessness on one day in January, and data about the inventory of shelter and housing available in a community. Recent and prior reports can be found on the webpage.  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) 
The YRBS is conducted biennially among local, state, and nationally representative samples of U.S. high school students in grades 9–12. In 2019, 23 states and 11 local school districts included a measure for housing status on their YRBS questionnaire. In 2021, the nationally representative YRBS included an item assessing housing stability, or nighttime residence among students in grades 9–12 in the United States. 


Other Resources on this Topic


Youth Briefs

How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).

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