Nearly forty million people in the U.S. live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Less than half of American households have 3-months’ worth of savings.
Millions of Americans do not have a credit score, a barrier to rental opportunities and homeownership.
Poverty Increases the Likelihood of Becoming Unhoused
Poverty and income inequality play a major role in the risk of someone experiencing homelessness, especially when they lack a support structure to rely on when faced with a number of challenges associated with poverty, like illness, loss or lack of a job, and discrimination. This, coupled with the fact that less than half of American households have even three months worth of savings means that in places with high cost of housing and high poverty, homelessness will become common.
According to a report from United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, "While the overall number of people experiencing homelessness in 2022 increased slightly compared with 2020, it rose significantly for individuals, people with disabilities who experience long-term homelessness, and people in unsheltered settings. Single individuals not part of family households continue to represent the largest group of people experiencing homelessness. Homelessness among single individuals increased by 3.1%. The number of chronically homeless individuals increased by 16% between 2020 and 2022.
People who identify as Black, African American, or African, as well as Indigenous people (including Native Americans and Pacific Islanders) continue to be overrepresented among those experiencing homelessness."
These findings are consistent with the reports of youth experiencing homelessness. Lack of access to affordable housing and a stable career are often barriers to finding housing, especially for Black, Latino, and LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness.
Bridging the Wealth Gap
There are a number of ways we can help youth experiencing homelessness bridge the wealth gap and make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.
Ensure that there is adequate housing available to all, regardless of their income level.
Provide enough job training and access to career pathways so that people can make a living wage.
Support renters with credit and financial counseling for long-term stability.
Help young adults in poverty save more of their income through state and federal programs.
Know the Issues That Drive Youth Homelessness
Young people experiencing homelessness face numerous challenges and barriers that hinder their journey toward sustainable independence and a hope-filled future.
Children and youth experiencing homelessness are a prime target of human trafficking. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception and other manipulative tactics to trap millions of young people worldwide.
Children raised in poverty face a higher risk of homelessness. Without equitable resources, they can get swept up in a vicious cycle of hardship and significant social disadvantages.
When young people age out of foster care and other child welfare services, they become susceptible to homelessness, human trafficking, and other threats to their well-being.
Young people experiencing homelessness are often ill-prepared to find and hold a job that can cover their housing costs. The lack of available affordable housing greatly compounds this issue.
Homelessness takes an enormous toll—both physically and mentally—on young people. Each year, thousands of youth experiencing homelessness die on the streets due to illness, assault, or suicide.
Racial discrimination is a pipeline to youth homelessness. People of color experience homelessness at higher rates, largely due to long-standing structural racism that impacts education, housing, and other inequities.
Help a Young Person End Their Cycle of Poverty
Your support helps Covenant House provide support and resources for youth escaping poverty and homelessness.