Transition-Aged Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Transition-Aged Youth (TAY) are individuals between 18 and 24 whose judgment, decision-making skills, and emotional intelligence are still developing. Ideally, they are finishing education/job training, starting careers, and establishing independent homes. Sadly, an estimated 170,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 experience homelessness each year. The real number of TAY is higher due to the difficulty of counting people experiencing homelessness, especially younger individuals.[1]

Who Does BEDS Serve?

Last year, we served 126 TAY. Our clients include:

  • Youth Aged Out of Foster Care
    • Pregnant and Parenting Youth
    • LGBTQ+ Youth
    • Domestic Violence/Abuse Survivors

Reflecting systemic housing inequities, we serve a disproportionate number of Black and Latinx TAY compared to our communities’ demographics.

Why Do TAY Become Homeless?

Family conflict is the most common reason youth give for homelessness. Many factors can underlie a conflict, including sexual orientation, school problems, mental illness, pregnancy, substance use, criminal activity, justice system involvement, and domestic abuse. Of course, the causes and effects of youth homelessness overlap and blur together. For example, a youth’s sexual orientation may cause their parents to expel them from their home, where they worsen an existing mental illness and use substances to self-medicate. This leads to criminal activity and justice system involvement like probation and incarceration. Whatever the reasons, homelessness has lasting effects on transition-aged youth as they move into adulthood.

How Does Homelessness Affect Them?

Homelessness has well-documented health, mental/behavioral health, legal, economic, and social effects on individuals of all ages. TAY experiencing homelessness face a particular risk of exploitation, abuse, and resulting trauma. According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center (NSVRC), one out of every three will engage in “survival sex,” or trading sex for basic needs. Specifically, 82% exchange sex for money; 42% exchange sex for shelter and/or food; and 22% exchange sex for drugs.

 

What Does BEDS Do?

BEDS receives support through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project to run a combined Transitional Housing/Rapid Rehousing program for TAY in West and South Suburban Cook County. The program provides extended Transitional Housing (up to 24 months), intensive case management, connections to supportive services, and dedicated Rapid Rehousing support. Once TAY enter the Rapid Rehousing arm of the program, they move into independent housing within 30 days of entry. All our services are culturally and trauma-informed, and we connect TAY with supportive services to meet their specific needs. In FY2023, eight clients were assisted with employment and education; five found employment and four clients went back to school; and 14 clients received services with Metropolitan Family Service (MFS). MFS offers education, economic stability, emotional wellness, and empowerment services for TAY-headed households in our program. They help young parents and children stabilize as these households work to regain housing.

How Can I Help?

You can support Transition-Aged Youth with a financial gift or an in-kind donation. Click the donate button or go to  https://beds-plus.org/ways-you-can-help/donate-goods-meals/ to get started.  Your gift will ensure that vulnerable youth secure housing during a crucial time in their lives.

If you know anyone between 18-24 who needs help, contact us at 708.354.0858

[1] Many “couch surf” with friends and acquaintances and hesitate to access services, so they are not included in point-in-time counts, surveys, and studies from which national estimates derive.

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