Report on Youth Homelessness in Philadelphia

Posted by City of Philadelphia on December 18, 2017

City releases comprehensive report on youth homelessness

Philadelphia is home to at least 569 youth ages 13 to 25 who were counted as being homeless and unaccompanied on a single night in August 2016. Of this number, 70% are African American; 78% graduated high school or received a GED; and more than a third of females reported being mothers or currently pregnant.

Key findings on the city’s homeless youth population are detailed in a 106-page report the Office of Homeless Services (OHS) released and hailed as the city’s most comprehensive and insightful report to date on the complex problem of youth homelessness in Philadelphia.

The document is based largely on information OHS gathered while conducting a point-in-time count of homeless youth as part of the national Voices of Youth Count effort to end youth homelessness led by Chapin Hall, a policy research center at the University of Chicago. Philadelphia is one of 22 cities from around the country to partner with Chapin on its nationwide effort and timed the release of its local report with the release of Chapin’s national report on the scope of youth homelessness around the US.

“Having both a national study of this magnitude as well as a deep dive report on the specific needs of youth experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia is an invaluable asset to our efforts to address this critical issue,” said OHS Director Liz Hersh. “Our primary goal in participating in the Voices of Youth Count study was to learn more about the needs of this hidden and vulnerable population so that we can accelerate solutions to prevent and end youth homelessness.”

Other findings include: LGBTQ youth are over-represented within the city’s youth homelessness population; youth homelessness is a hidden issue often disguised as couch-surfing; strong cross-system collaboration among public systems including the school district, child welfare system and justice system are crucial to preventing youth homelessness and insuring that young people do not fall through the cracks.

Chapin’s Voices of Youth Count initiative introduced an innovative methodology to count youth and young adults experiencing homelessness wherein young adults who have experienced homelessness and local youth agencies partnered with OHS to conduct youth-led counts and surveys of young people and providers to collect information about the number, characteristics and services available to youth experiencing homelessness. “This youth-driven methodology has yielded incredible data on the needs of youth experiencing homelessness,” Hersh said.

The Philly Homes 4 Youth Coalition, a group of more than 30 public and private agencies working to address youth homelessness, and OHS’s Young Adult Leadership Committee hosted a forum on the Voices of Youth Count Philadelphia report and findings on Tuesday, November 28 at City Hall. Information from the Forum can be found on the Office of Homeless Services website.

Youth Initiative

In addition to participating in the national effort, Philadelphia was one of five cities in the country to engage young people currently or formerly experiencing homelessness in detailed interview sessions as part of the Voices of Youth Count project.

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