Runaway & Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless
What defines a homeless youth?
“Homeless youth are typically defined as unaccompanied
youth ages 12 to 24 years who do not have familial
support, and who lack a regular night-time
residence. Homeless youth live in shelters, on the streets,
in a range of places not meant for human
habitation (e.g. cars, abandoned buildings), or in others’
homes for short periods under circumstances
that make the situation highly unstable (so-called “couch
surfing” or “highly mobile youth”)”
1. Runaway: youth who
have left home
without parental
permission (physical
abuse, neglect,
alcohol abuse)
2. Throwaways: youth
who were forced to
leave their homes by
3. Institutional youth:
youth who have an
extensive history in
foster care, group
home, institutions
4. Street youth: youth
who have spent some
time living on the
streets, most chronic
• Sexual Orientation
– 3-10 % Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual (1993 survey)
• Race / Ethnicity
– Survey found “no differences”, proportional to racial
make-up of community
– Some studies have over-represented statistics
• Age
– Majority 13 or older
• Gender
– Males generally more likely
• Street youth: males
• Shelters: even or more females
• 5-7% of teenagers experience at least one
episode of homelessness each year (1-1.5
• 20,000 – 25,000 transition out of foster
care each year, 25% experience
homelessness within 2.5-4 yrs
• 2005 survey indicated 79% of homeless
youth attended school
Hidden Youth: The Life and
$$$ Funding $$$
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHA)
– $130 million
– Served over 500,000 youth in 2005
– Funds NWYS transitional housing program
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009)
$70 million for identification, enrollment, attendance, and school success
– $1.5 billion for HPRP for various housing needs/programs
– $50 million for YouthBuild activities
– $70 million for identification, enrollment, attendance, and school success
Chaffee Foster Care Independence Program
– If all funds were used for housing, each youth/young adult would receive about
$$$ Funding $$$
• In 2007, federally funded programs made
over 700,000 contacts with youth through
street outreach programs but served
47,400 (less than 10 percent) with shelter
and housing
– Congressional Research Service
– Small fraction
• State and local educational agencies must provide
students experiencing homelessness with school access
and stability, and remove barriers to their attendance and
– Enroll without parent permission
– Liaison
– Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
• A recent federal law eliminated the barrier for
unaccompanied youth applying for aid for the 2009-2010
school year and future years.
– Independent student status
– College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007
• Runaway youth can receive:
– Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
– Food Stamps (EBT)
• Is it against the law to runaway from home?
– Yes, in Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, South
Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming
– Mandatory Reporting to Social Service Agency
Issues / Needs
• Runaway / Homeless youth have issues trusting
adults and therefore don’t seek services
• Difficult to measure effectiveness of intervention
strategies w/out facing ethical dilemmas
• Increased funds for housing
– While the average cost of foster care, in-patient
treatment, or juvenile correction placements average
between $25,000 and $55,000 per year, the average
cost of a transitional living program housing unit for
youth is approximately $11,800.
• Levinson, D., & Ross, M. (Eds.). (2007). Homelessness handbook.
Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing Group.
• Hombs, M. E. (2001). American homelessness (3rd ed.). Santa
Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc.
• Jorgensen, J. (2010, March 8). Telephone interview.
• Wayman, R. A. H., & Modglin, T. (2009). American recovery and
reinvestment act: homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing
program. National alliance to end homelessness. Retrieved from
• Monjazeb, A. (Producer). (2009). Hidden youth: the life and times
[video clip]. Available from
• Foscarinis, M. (2004). Legal tools to end youth homelessness.
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Retrieved from
• What services do you provide?
2 housing programs, transitional living, 1821, emancipated 16-17, NWYS signs lease
Permanent housing – homeless youth 18-25
works with a case manager
• How are you funded?
Federal rhy – transitional
Whatcom homeless service center –