There is an increasing amount of families living in need across Chicago, and across the country who need support for housing, nutrition, education and growth. From long-term housing solutions to developmental services and education, Mercy Home is helping homeless children and the Chicago community with a long-term housing solution. To improve the lives of effected children in our community, it is important for us as integral community members to understand facts on how to identify early signs and proper solutions for homeless and runaway youth.
Homeless Youth in the United States
According to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth as well as the National Center for Family Homelessness:
- 2.3 – 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness at least once a year, effecting different ages, races and genders.
- 1/3 of the total homeless population families with children.
- 1 in 50 (1.5 million) of the total homeless population are estimated to be under the age of 6.
- 1.3 - 1.6 million unaccompanied or runaway youth annually.
- 50,000 youth experience long-term homelessness (six month or more) each year.
Homeless Youth in the Chicago
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) survey from 2009-2010 found:
- Over 15,000 homeless children in Chicago Public Schools.
- Nearly 4,000 of which were unaccompanied youth.
- 45% of the total Chicago homeless population, or nearly 40,000 people, were families. And of that, 32% were children.
- Unaccompanied youth made up 7.3%.
Types of Homelessness
There are four types of homelessness: homeless families, youth homelessness, couch surfers and chronically homeless. Mercy Home for Boys and Girls cares for many homeless youth who have been couch surfers and have nowhere else to turn.
Effects of Homelessness on Youth
- Lack of self-sufficiency skills
- Decreased educational opportunities
- Lack of stability
- Great risk of physical and mental health challenges
- Greater likelihood to use and abuse drugs
Causes of Youth Homelessness
Most result from family breakdown and systems failure. Other common causes of homelessness include the following:
- Physical abuse
- Systems failures
- Mental illness
- Substance abuse
- Sexual orientation
- Economic downturn
- Lack of affordable housing
To help make a difference today, please make a donation to provide a long-term solution to homeless children in need