Homeless Teens

By 01.04.2016 interact > Health
Vulnerable Teenage Girl Sleeping On The Street

Instead of typical teen worries like pop quizzes or school gossip, can you imagine not having a warm meal and safe place to sleep at night? Unfortunately, that’s the reality for an estimated 1.7 million homeless teens every year in the United States, according to the Department of Justice. In fact, on any single night in January 2014, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that there were 194,302 children and youth that were homeless, “representing about one-third of all homeless people.”

Why are so many teens homeless? There are several factors that contribute to homelessness among youth, but family dysfunction and financial hardships are primary drivers. A disturbing 2002 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report found that between 21 percent to 42 percent homeless youth were sexually abused prior to leaving home and a similar study a few years earlier found that nearly half were physically abused. Homelessness also significantly affects youth that identify as LGBT, as a 2012 report found, and in many cases teens are rejected by their families due to their orientation. For others, the economy, unemployment, increase in home foreclosures, lack of health insurance or death of a caregiver contribute to homelessness.

While many teens tragically turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the challenges of their circumstances and the trauma of their experiences, there is hope. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act protects the educational rights of homeless children and adolescents, and there are programs across the country to help them escape poverty and move forward, including emergency and transitional shelter, food, work and counseling. The key to youth accepting that help however, according to a Stanford study is that there be no strings attached.

“Street teens were interested in obtaining assistance, but they were reluctant to make lasting commitments to get such help,” the researchers said. “Almost no street teens expressed an interest in family re-unification or residential placement.”

Take the quiz below to learn more or browse the following resources.

HUD Resources for Homeless Youth

Homeless Youth in America: Who Are They?

National Coalition for the Homeless Fact Sheet

Homeless Teens

Gain perspective about homelessness in the U.S. and find out how teens are affected.


  1. Taylor

    It is sad to think about all these people. and to think that there is no way to buy food

    • barrysanders

      well i wish there was a way to give all of them jobs the thing is though either some just dont wanna work or some just cant work for age reasons..

  2. Brianna Sherretts

    its very sad because knowing they are alone starving and could be ill

  3. cheyenne

    i say that we should put a stop to people being homeless!! its a sad situation and things can be done. everyone just needs too be a community again !

  4. Trapper Gavin Alexander cory

    Hi, I’m a student from henryville elementary school. I like how you all talked about the homeless and it absolutely made me give homeless people money when i went to Louisville ky. Thanks for changing my life and i will always think of the homeless people my whole life. Thanks, Trapper G Cory from Henryville Elementary school.

  5. Alexis Holderread

    Homeless people is a serious problem and we need to help them.

    • barrysanders

      i agree but i think we should help them by giving them jobs… and a small house to live in that isnt free but cheap maybe 100$ a month..

  6. sam

    i think it’ important for teens not be homeless because they need money

  7. Haley

    I really wish that this wasn’t all true hopefully they find homes and jobs to survive
    Btw my name is haley and I’m from Minnesota

  8. Ashley Ortiz

    I want to help change the world to become better. like i want to have nicer human beings i want to create something unique!!!! its about time someone makes a different in this world.

  9. Ashley Ortiz

    I’m just a seventh grader and i want to help the homeless people!! (: my dream is to make others happy!!!

  10. Madison

    I go to a store and spend like $50 dollars on food and drinks for the homeless.

  11. Shae

    I believe that the money they use on the phone should go to the rent.

  12. Shawna Littrell

    God Bless all these homeless teens,I hope one day someone will help these poor people because everyone good or bad deserves the same treatment (yes haters I see u reading this and haten)

  13. Shaylee Steed (11 years old)

    Hi my name is Shaylee Steed and S am doing a project about this article and I need to know who is the author of this article.

  14. ashlee

    thanks for this story! I am going to be doing a speech on this for my 6th grade S.s class and was wandering who the author was.

  15. Shaylee Steed (11 years old)

    I fell really bad for homeless people because they don’t have as much money or health as people with houses do. I know that there are homeless shelters but sometimes people prefer the streets. My family always helps homeless people by giving them money or food.

  16. estrellita lopez

    i could of done better but its just that i didnt remember sorry

  17. Mrs. Dunlap's class

    It’s sad to see them on the streets & we’d like to know more on how we could help them.

  18. Kendy

    we will can help them. Because homeless have no home and no food. if I see homeless I gave few money or about $50.00 each person.

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