No one grows up wanting to be homeless. The young people we meet are navigating circumstances beyond their control—they all want the chance to stabilize and thrive.

Every young person comes to YouthCare with a unique story. But beneath those individual stories are common systemic barriers and historic inequities: poverty, racism, neglect, and lack of affordable housing.

Multiple, and often intersecting, forms of oppression lead to youth homelessness. Institutionalized racism within the overlapping systems that touch young people’s lives—education, child welfare, behavioral health, and juvenile detention—disproportionally push youth of color into a pipeline of homelessness. Read more about the root causes of homelessness here.

In a national study, over
90% of homeless youth report family conflict, and 1/4 suffer from abuse and neglect.

Of the 955 homeless youth and young adults in King County approximately:

3 of 5 are youth of color systemic racism denies people of color equal access to housing and income

1/3 have been in foster care and leave without a stable place to call home

A house with broken windows

1/4 are kicked out of their homes because of abuse, family, conflict, or poverty

rainbow1/3 identify as LGBTQ+ many are kicked out for coming out

person juping over a hurdle1/2 are navigating mental health challenges with limited access to resources needed to thrive

How many young people are homeless?

Approximately 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness every year in the U.S. That amounts to one in ten young adults ages 18-25 and one in thirty youth ages 13-17. In King County, almost 1,1000 unaccompanied youth and young adults experience homelessness on any given night and around 70% of those young people sleep outside because of lack of shelter or housing.

Why is youth homelessness unique?

Youth homelessness is different than adult homelessness; young people often couch-surf between friends and family and many do not identify as homeless. Young people experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of exploitation and trafficking on the streets: about one-fifth of them report being trafficked and over one-third experience violence or assault. Additionally, young people’s brains are still developing and don’t reach maturation until the age of 25. For this reason, the adult homeless system is often unsafe for young adults.

Why is your support important?

Every human has potential; everyone grows up with curiosity and dreams for the future. Young people, in particular, share an inherent optimism about the possibilities that lie ahead. We must leverage this opportunity. Almost 50% of adults experiencing homelessness in our community become homeless for the first time before the age of 25. Helping young people move forward is our most effective strategy in preventing and ending adult homelessness.

Your generous support helps young people achieve long-term stability. Click here to make a gift.