Not One Youth, Not One Night: Pledge to End Youth Homelessness Now!
“It’s like a constant battle to prove yourself, that you’re not just this mumbling fool or this person running the streets, you’re just someone that’s really trying to overcome hard times, or just someone trying to overcome what you’ve been through.” – Shanda, 18 years old, homeless in Baltimore.
Each year in the United States, more than 1.7 million youth are on their own without a parent or guardian or a safe, stable place to sleep. In Maryland, one of the richest states in the country, homelessness among unaccompanied youth ages 14 to 25 has increased dramatically in recent years, including a 50% increase in Baltimore City alone between 2009 and 2011. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Most young people become homeless and alone because of severe family conflict, abuse or neglect, rejection by caregivers due to sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, or disability, or because they have aged out of the foster care system without the skills and resources to support themselves.
While living in shelters or on the street, unaccompanied homeless youth are disproportionately likely to become victims of sexual exploitation and other crime, commit suicide, suffer from physical and mental health impairments, drop out of school, and turn to delinquency in order to survive. Without access to appropriate housing and supportive services, they are ill-equipped to transition to a stable and self-sufficient adulthood.
It is unacceptable that millions of young people nationwide and thousands of young people in Maryland are on their own and homeless. These young people typically become homeless and unaccompanied because of family breakdown or because public systems have failed to meet their needs, and then face further trauma and victimization on the streets.
I believe that every young person deserves a safe, stable place to live and access to the supportive services needed to ensure a successful transition to adulthood. I pledge to support a right to housing and supportive services for unaccompanied homeless youth. Not one youth, not one night!