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November 2023 is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month



Every November, we try to raise awareness for the issues that face homeless youth across the country. Some are part of homeless families, and others are on their own. Confronting youth homelessness means addressing the causes of both types of homelessness, as well as providing shelter and services for homeless youth.


Causes of Homelessness


Many families fall into homelessness due to poverty factors, including stagnating wages and the rising costs of housing. Some families are only a paycheck away from losing their homes. This can cause families to double up and share housing with relatives, which can put a heavy strain in the families.


When a family is crammed into a space that is too small, it can lead to hygiene issues, lack of suitable sleeping areas, food shortages, as well as other issues. Being crammed into a tight space can be stressful, and can sometimes lead to families ending up on the street.


When it comes to homeless teens who are on their own, often this happens due to problems at home. If there is high degree of conflict in the family such as abuse or neglect, teens will often either run away from home, or be kicked out of the house. Sometimes they can stay with friends or other family for a short time, or they may end up on the street.


Other young people can end up on the street once they age out of foster care, because often they have no financial resources to get their own apartment, so they can end up homeless as well.


Still other youth may end up as homeless if they are LGBTQ+, if their parents don't accept the way they identify. This can lead to additional in-home violence, and to teens either running away from home or getting kicked out of the house.


When teens become homeless, they can have a more difficult time than homeless adults, because they are easy targets for criminals. It is also harder, and in some cases impossible, for them to find work which would better their situation.


Providing Help


There are many community organizations that provide help and assistance to homeless and runaway teens.


If a teen has run away from home, they can contact 1800-RUNAWAY to find local services and they also provide a list of referrals to other helpful organizations. This way, teens can find a shelter in their local area for food and safety.


It is important for teens to know that if they feel unsafe returning home, that family reunification isn't always the goal in these situations. They can contact the runaway hotline confidentially without their location being disclosed to their parents.


However, if runaway teens do wish to be reunited with their families, there is a program called Home Free, where they can get a free Greyhound bus ticket to get back home. This program will also provide transportation to transitional housing.


If you want to get involved and make a difference for homeless youth in your community, Covenant House has a Kit Packing Challenge this year:

Groups and companies can lend their support by participating in a volunteer event where participants purchase and package essential items to meet the basic needs of our young people. Kit packing events can be tailored to your specific needs and no matter which option you choose, our team is here to help engage your volunteers and shine a spotlight on the positive impact your project will have on our youth.

By providing help and support to homeless youth, we can help them to have a better future. They can get into transitional housing, receive educational support, and receive help finding a job and permanent housing. This can make a huge difference, by getting them away from the dangers of living on the street.



To read more information about how to help a homeless or runaway teen:



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