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National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

5 Essential Facts and Figures About Runaway and Homeless Youth

Aerial view of Los Angeles, California
According to Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America, around one in 10 young adults ages 18 to 25 and at least one in 30 youth ages 13 to 17 experience unaccompanied homelessness within a 12-month period. This equates to about 4.2 million youth and young adults in the U.S., about the same as the population of Los Angeles.
Close-up photo of a young woman who is a lesbian
Young people who identify as LGBTQ represent a high proportion of homeless youth and young adults. A survey of youth homeless services providers found the proportion to be as high as 40%.
Young boy sleeping on a sidewalk
These diagnoses include depression, PTSD, ADHD, and anxiety disorders. Young people experiencing homelessness are more likely than their peers to be affected by substance use disorders and mental health issues: between 69% and 86% experience substance use disorders.
Image of high school diploma and mortarboard
Economics and education can dictate homelessness. Youth who finish high school are less likely to become homeless. And youth from households with annual incomes under $24,000 had a 162% higher risk.
Sad little girl being held by her mother
Parenthood is a reality for many homeless young people. Nearly 1 in 5 (18 percent) young men told Voices of Youth Count they were a parent or had a pregnant partner, as well. Forty-three percent of young adult women and 29% of young adult men who had been homeless during the past year said they had at least one child. In contrast, 22% of young women and 14% of young men in the same age group who had not experienced homelessness within the past year reported having a child.

Runaway and homeless youth (RHY) can seem like an invisible population because they don’t always match our expectations of what homelessness—or youth—looks like. In this slideshow, learn some of the big statistics about this population, which might be larger and more diverse than you realized. Data drawn from our Issue Brief, Facts and Figures About Runaway and Homeless Youth.