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Homeless Youth

Definition: Homeless youth are typically defined as unaccompanied young people ages 12 and older who do not have family support and who are living in shelters, on the streets, in cars or vacant buildings, or who are “coach surfing” or living in other unstable circumstances.


Young homeless people often become homeless in order to escape violent crimes happening in their homes such as physical and sexual abuse and neglect. This includes LGBTQ youth (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning).

Statistics and Facts

National Homeless Youth Statistics

  • Overall, unaccompanied homeless youth represent 7% of the total homeless population in the United States. (HUD, 2015)
  • On a single night in 2015, there were approximately 36,907 unaccompanied homeless youth throughout all of the United States. (HUD, 2015)
  • 87% or 32,240 individuals were youth between the ages of 18 and 24. (HUD, 2015)
  • 13% or 4,667 individuals were children under the age of 18. (HUD, 2015)

Homeless Youth in NYC Statistics

  • On a Single Night in January 2015, New York State had approximately 2,493 unaccompanied homeless youth who were between the ages of 18 and 24. (HUD, 2015)

Reasons for Homelessness

The 2013 count of homeless youths in New York City (performed on a single night in January 2013), captured the prevalent type of conflicts cited by youth as the reason behind their homelessness.

  • 34% – Fighting frequently with parents
  • 31% – Kicked out of home
  • 34% – Physical, mental or sexual abuse
  • 26% – Neglect or parent not meeting basic needs
  • 20% – Not willing to live by parents rules
  • 20% – Parents use of drugs or alcohol

(NYC CCoC, 2013)

NYC Unstably Housed Youth   

  • On a single night in January 2015 the government of New York City identified a total of 317 unstably housed individuals. (CIDI 2015)
  • This includes youth in shelters, drop-in centers, transitional living, church beds, friend’s place/couch surfing, hospital/jail/juvenile detention/mental health facility/group home, and sex for shelter/forced sex for shelter/trafficked. (CIDI 2015)
  •  Of these individuals,
    • Age:
      • 4% are under 18
      • 44% are 18-20
      • 52% are 21-24
    • Gender:
      • 53% male
      • 38% female
      • 1% trans-female
      • 2% trans-male
    • Race/ethnicity:
      • 38% African American
      • 25% Hispanic
      • 8% White
      • 20% Two or more races
    • Sexual orientation:
      • 51% straight
      • 44% LGBTQ

(CIDI 2015)

Streetwork Transgender Support Group Asks What’s The T?

What’s the T?” is a support group run by Streetwork Project — Safe Horizon’s homeless youth program — that provides a safe, judgement-free space where transgender and gender non-conforming homeless youth can feel free to be themselves.

Streetwork Project

No Judgement, Just Options

Learn more →


Call us and speak to someone who can help. We’re here when you need us, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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Our Impact

1,022 Homeless young people who received service from Streetwork