January 17, 2012

Homeless Teens

A look at the growing number of teens who are without homes.

“We’re trying to get out of there but the place is hard to get out of.”

Shelby: Seventeen-year-old Jonathan Davis lived with his family in a motel, but a fire burned their temporary home to the ground and turned everything they had into ash. Jonathan is part of a growing population of young people who are affected by homelessness in the U.S.

Faced with unstable conditions, 97% of homeless children move up to three times in one year. Before turning to emergency shelters, many families move into campgrounds, crowded apartments or motel rooms.

Jonathan works part time, trying to help make ends meet.

Jonathan Davis: You try. That’s about all you can do is try and hope for the best. You can’t really do anything after that.

Shelby: With child homelessness up an estimated 33% in the past three years, Jonathan is not alone in his struggle. According to a recent report by the National Center on Family Homelessness, there are now an estimated 1.6 million homeless children in the U.S. That means that last year, about 1 in 45 kids was living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or in houses with other families.

Ranking states based on a number of factors, the report found that Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Arizona and California are the states where child homelessness is the highest.

“We’ve got a large number of very young children who are living on the edge.”

Shelby: The effects can be devastating. Compared to their non-homeless peers, homeless children are three times more likely to suffer from things like anxiety, depression, sleep problems and hunger.

Destiny: My family had to eat at a gas station at the corner because they had a microwave.

Shelby: Destiny’s family recently got a break after 60 Minutes aired a story about homeless kids in her Florida community.

Destiny: Because of the 60 Minutes segment, our community has come together and provided my family with a home.

Shelby: But many homeless children aren’t as lucky as Destiny. Even though states have resources dedicated to helping the homeless, most do not focus on young people, which can put homeless children at even greater risk.

And many fear that budget cuts will lead to bigger problems and more homeless children down the road.

“Those who struggle are going to need some support. And it’s very difficult to make that a priority at a time when all of us are struggling.”

Shelby: With the new year, Congress is hoping to pass new laws that will help a new generation of homeless.

Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.


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