Income Inequality and Poverty Lead to Increased Youth Homelessness

Across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America, places with severe poverty and high income inequality often have the highest rates of youth homelessness. This is especially true when you consider all forms of youth homelessness, including couch surfing, unstable housing, family shelters, and living on the streets.

homeless child living in tent | Covenant House - Income Inequality and Poverty

37.9 Mil­lion

Nearly forty million people in the U.S. live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

< 50%

Less than half of American households have 3-months’ worth of savings.

45 Million

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.

Toy house next to a set of keys.


Ensure that there is adequate housing available to all, regardless of their income level.

Young man learning about the Covenant House mission at a computer

Workforce Development

Provide enough job training and access to career pathways so that people can make a living wage.

former homeless youth receiving financial education | Covenant House - Income Inequality and Poverty

Financial Education

Support renters with credit and financial counseling for long-term stability.

Caculator, money, and notepad tracking costs | Covenant House - Savings Support

Savings Support

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.

Help a Young Person End Their Cycle of Poverty

Your support helps Covenant House provide support and resources for youth escaping poverty and homelessness.