Housing Homeless Youth

Reports and Publications
March 2017
Bill Hart, Kendra L. Smith

In Arizona, homeless youth form a highly needy but largely overlooked population of young men and women especially vulnerable to assault, theft, injury, illness and sexual exploitation. Many have fled abusive homes; others have “aged-out” of foster care. All are exposed to turmoil and trauma that have both short and long term impacts. In the short term, homelessness can affect brain development at an especially critical time in youths’ lives; further, their basic need to survive can promote involvement in begging, stealing, and risky sexual behavior, which bring heightened risks for problems such as drug addition, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections. In the long term, homeless youth can become chronically homelessness adults. This can deprive society of stable, healthy adults ready to take their places as citizens, parents, taxpayers and workers. This report offers a brief account of research findings concerning the challenges and consequences of a destructive but often hidden social ill.