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Rates

Due to variations in the definition, timeframe, and age range used, the number of youth who have experienced homelessness varies significantly. Estimates suggest that between 500,000 and 2.8 million youth are homeless within the United States each year.1

Homeless Unaccompanied Youth

  • A 2004 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report estimated that about 1.6 million youth (7 percent) between the ages of 12 and 17 had run away from home and slept on the street during the previous year.2
  • The 2009 Department of Housing and Urban Development data suggest that unaccompanied youth accounted for about 2.2 percent of the sheltered homeless population, though this is recognized as a low estimate.
  • Most unaccompanied homeless youth are over twelve, but research has identified youth as young as nine who are homeless and unaccompanied.3

Homeless Youth in Families

  • In 2009, 238,110 people in families were counted as homeless in a single night. Over the course of the year, 535,447 people in families were sheltered. 4
  • The 2009 rates represent a 13 percent increase since 2007.5
  • Youth who experience homelessness with their families tend to be younger, with 2008 findings showing that over 51 percent were under the age of six, 34 percent were between the ages of 6 and 12, and only 15 percent were between the ages of 13 and 17.6

Runaway Youth

  • Estimates using data according to the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth –1997 suggest that about 19 percent of youth ran away before they turned 18.7
  • About half of youth who ran away did so more than once and about 30 percent ran away three or more times.8

1 Cooper, 2006
2 SAMHSA, 2004
3 Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007
4 HUD, 2009
5 HUD, 2009
6 HUD, 2009
7 Pergamit, 2010
8 Pergamit, 2010

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