We don't know a lot.  We do know that there are usual factors that contribute to youth homelessness:

Family rejection (particularly a problem for LGBTQia and gender exceptional youth)

Aging out of foster care 

Release from the juvenile justice system


Mental health problems

Substance use and addiction 


The most commonly quoted number of homeless youth under the age of 18, just under 1.7 million, comes from the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children, more commonly known as the NISMART. 


National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2012) An Emerging Framework for Ending Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness NAEH typology (http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/an-emerging-framework-for-ending-unaccompanied-youth-homelessness)


Utah Youth Homelessness Information

Definition: youth age 14-23 living in:

Shelters, Places not meant for human habitation (camps, squats, bare ground, trees, stores), Couch surfing

Pathways to homelessness: 

Throwaway (family rejection), Runaway, Systems youth (20-55% have been in child welfare custody)


Estimated 5,000 per year experiencing homelessness in Utah

Estimated 1-1.5 million youth per year in U.S., 5-8% of all U.S. youth (National Alliance to End Homelessness)

Utah Point in Time Count Data

U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development annual, one day/night count of persons experiencing homelessness, happens in January with the count by shelter staff, providers and volunteers.

64% male, 36% female, 0% transgender

70% had been homeless more than one time in past three years

30% had been homeless for longer than one year

Almost half became homeless before age 18, 14% before age 15

30% have children of their own

20% currently addicted to drugs/alcohol

42% had been in foster care (58% “aged out”)

53% (over 18) have a high school diploma, half intend to complete a college degree

13% currently employed

37% had attempted suicide

58% had experienced abuse before becoming homeless, 37% experienced abuse after becoming homeless
11% had engaged in survival sex



Other stats from provider surveys (not Point in Time)

Estimated 40% of youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT, Utah and national)
Estimated 60% are from conservative religious families (Utah)

62% of youth experiencing homelessness have attempted suicide - no statistics on suicide completions (Utah, and national)

Within 48 hours, 33% - 100% of unaccompanied youth will have been approached by sex traffickers


Prevalence Estimates


Census and National Estimate: According to the 2010 Utah Census, there are 447,609 youth in Utah between the ages of 15 and 24 (221,090 15-19 years old; 226,519 20-24 years old). According to a commonly cited National estimate, about 5-8% of all youth in the US will experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. If we accept this estimate as accurate for Utah, this equals 22,380-35,808 youth.


 http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml? pid=DEC_10_DP_DPDP1


Service Utilization and Outreach Estimate:


With service use, the best estimate we have is about 2,000 annually, although we know this is a vast underestimate. This number comes from the following sources:

1,300 youth served by Volunteers of America Utah in Salt Lake City


Approximately 200 served in Salt Lake City and Ogden through street outreach. Many of these youth are in camps, LGBTQ, and disconnected from any other service providers.


100 youth experiencing homelessness served by Ogden Outreach each year 


The remaining 400 are an estimate for the balance of the state, including Utah county, Logan, and the St. George area

as well as more rural areas. Once again, this is likely a huge underestimate.


McKinney Vento Estimate:


The McKinney Vento Act requires public schools to give homeless students the right to remain in their

school of origin or to enroll in their current area of residence. This act also requires schools to provide

transportation to make all school-related activities fully accessible to homeless students, and to

provide liaisons to advocate for the interests of homeless students and assist them in enrollment (U.S.

Department of Education). Though we know there are many students experiencing homelessness in

their schools who are not receiving McKinney Vento benefits, the number of students who are in each

district provide another piece of the puzzle in understanding youth homelessness in Utah. 


There are a total of 3,357 students in 9th-12th grade receiving McKinney Vento benefits (2010-2011 data, will update when data is made available by state office). 


The counties with the highest numbers of students receiving McKinney Vento benefits are: 

Salt Lake County: 1,155

Davis County: 546
Utah County: 482
San Juan County: 283
Weber County: 267

College Student Estimate: USU Student Housing Status Survey (October 2013, N = 1,630) In the past year:

o 14% had stayed in a hotel because they didn’t have anywhere else to stay
o 5% had stayed in a car because they didn’t have anywhere else to stay
o 8% had stayed in a tent or outdoors because they didn’t have anywhere else to stay

o 1% had stayed in an abandoned building or residence without utilities


Runaway Estimate: “More than 2,000 Utah kids have been reported as runaways so far this year.” - KSL 5 News, November 11, 2013

State Point –in-Time Access: According to the January 2013 Point-in-Time count, there were 127 homeless youth age 18-24 on one night. That is about 3.8% of all persons experiencing homelessness in Utah at that time. Looking at children and youth under 18 who were homeless on that night, there were 845 total, about 28% of all persons experiencing homelessness. This number is not extremely useful because we do not know what portion of these were homeless as a part of a family, which would exclude them from being counted as a “homeless youth.” -Email from Jonathan Wrathall, October 29, 2013

State Point-in-Time Count Estimate: In 2012, the annualized estimate given by the state office was 16,522. According to the same report, homeless youth make up 9% of Utah’s homeless population. Applying this, we get an estimate of 1,487. (http://jobs.utah.gov/housing/documents/Utah2012ComprehensiveReportonHomelessness.pdf)