Missed Opportunities in Youth Pathways Through Homelessness


See Full Report

Author(s): Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

  • Gina Miranda Samuels
  • Christine Cerven
  • Susanna Curry
  • Shanta Robinson
  • Sonali Patel

Published: June 5, 2019

Report Intro/Brief:
“This brief draws exclusively from one component of Voices of Youth Count, the in-depth interviews (IDI) done with 215 youth ages 13 to 25 in 5 counties in the U.S. The IDI component is the largest qualitative study of its kind on youth homelessness in the U.S. It included narrative mixed-method design and a nationally and regionally diverse sample. We gathered three kinds of data from youth who were currently unstably housed: in-depth narrative interviews, housing timelines (exploring all the places and people with whom youth had stayed/slept) and background surveys. This brief shares a portion of the findings.

What we found:

  • Young people link the beginnings of their homelessness to early family instability and disruptions of home, including entrance into foster care and family homelessness
  • Young people name multilevel factors—critical conditions—that shaped how pathways through homelessness unfolded
  • Youth’s pathways through homelessness reflect geographic mobility and fluidity in sleeping arrangements
  • Youth pathways through homelessness are also characterized by significant personal losses; 35% of youth experienced the death of at least one parent or primary caregiver

What it means:

This brief elevates the voices of youth as a call to adults to rethink and redouble their efforts in ending youth homelessness. Youth’s stories challenge us to reconsider when prevention and intervention would be most effective. Their stories underscore that homelessness is symptomatic of much larger and enduring challenges in our society, systems, and institutions, and consequently, in families who often navigate these challenges on their own. The findings also emphasize that this period of time is developmentally significant and, therefore, developmental awareness must directly inform any strategy for addressing homelessness. Additionally, their stories highlight the consequences of chronic interpersonal trauma and loss, and the critical importance of safe emergency shelters and transitional housing. The findings call for solutions and service systems that are responsive to the level of mobility and fluidity youth experience in their living situations, and the relational complexity youth navigate with family, broadly defined.

The brief is accompanied by recommended revisions to the federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which authorizes community-based temporary shelter and care, and specifically targets services for minors. Chapin Hall provides specific recommendations to the law as examples and invite debate to strengthen what we’ve proposed.”

>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s REPORT LIBRARY


Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.


Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.


We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)

Youth Today's ISSN: 10896724
Our XML website site map:

Recent Comments



Logo Grant professional Association Business Alliance
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2019 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
1200 Chastain Rd, MD 00310, Chastain Pointe Bldg 300, Suite 310, Kennesaw, GA 30144-5591

To Top