WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than half of homeless youth become homeless for the first time because they are asked to leave home by a parent or caregiver, according to a study announced today at an event hosted by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and music icon and activist Cyndi Lauper.
The "Ending Youth Homelessness: A Call to Action" event brought together Lauper, officials from ACF, and former homeless youth to discuss research about youth who experience homelessness in the United States.
The first-of-its-kind study, funded by ACF's Family & Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), focused on 656 14- to 21-year-olds in 11 cities. Respondents included street youth served by FYSB's Street Outreach Program grantees and street youth who were not using services. The study found the following:
- On average, the youth became homeless for the first time at age 15.
- The average youth spent nearly two years living on the streets.
- More than 60 percent were raped, beaten up, robbed, or otherwise assaulted.
- Nearly 30 percent of participants identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, and nearly 7 percent identified as transgender.
"No young person deserves to experience homelessness, especially because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, which is why we must stand with them to help them live the happy and healthy lives they do deserve," said Lauper, the Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award winner whose True Colors Fund works to build the nation's capacity to end homelessness among LGBT youth.
"The federal government supports street outreach, emergency shelters and longer-term transitional living and maternity group home programs across the country," said ACF Acting Assistant Secretary Mark Greenberg. "We do this to help young people move from homelessness to safe settings, and to help them complete their educations, get jobs, and when possible, return to their families"
Three young people at the event shared personal stories of finding stability after homelessness. Homeless at age 13, Washington native Anthony received help from a FYSB-funded emergency shelter at Sasha Bruce Youthwork. Now a university graduate who hopes to become a lawyer, Anthony credits the ongoing support of Sasha Bruce and one former staff member in particular for helping him turn his life around.
"To end youth homelessness, we need to be smarter about how we understand and meet the needs of young people," said Laura Green Zeilinger, executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. She called for greater coordination among all stakeholders, focusing on improving four key outcomes for youth: stable housing, permanent connections, education and employment, and well-being.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regularly estimates the number of people experiencing homelessness. Even though this exercise is believed to undercount the number of youth experiencing homelessness, it still identified 46,924 unaccompanied children and youth experiencing homelessness in the United States on a single night in January 2013.
FYSB celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), which authorizes the only federal anti-homelessness funding aimed specifically at young people. To learn more, visit: youthhomelessness.acf.hhs.gov.
Learn more about the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness.
The True Colors Fund was co-founded by Cyndi Lauper to raise awareness about and bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness.
Kenneth J. Wolfe, 202-401-9215, Kenneth.Wolfe@acf.hhs.gov
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SOURCE Administration for Children and Families (ACF)