Statistics - Sleep Out America | Covenant House International



Having some knowledge about youth homelessness and understanding the work that Covenant House does is helpful in preparing you or your family or team for this event. The statistics below can help make your experience (and fundraising appeals) more meaningful. Additional information may be found here.

How many young people are homeless?

There is a youth homelessness crisis in America. Here are just a few of the staggering statistics:

  • 3.5 million young adults (ages 18-25) and 700,000 adolescent minors (ages 13-17) experience a form of homelessness in a given year — that’s 1 in 10 young adults and 1 in 30 adolescent minors.
  • 11,520 young people (ages 13-25) become homeless each day. This totals 4.2 million young people experiencing a form of homelessness in a given year, from couch surfing to living on the streets.
  • Youth homelessness affects kids in urban and rural environments at similar levels — which means there are kids experiencing homelessness in all kinds of communities.
  • Half of the youth who experienced homelessness in the past year did so for the first time, and 42% went on to experience two or more episodes of homelessness.

Why do kids become homeless and who’s the most at-risk?

While the reasons that force a kid to the streets are incredibly diverse and personal, here are a few of the most common, critical issues surrounding youth homelessness.

Foster Care

  • Each year, 20,000 young people “age out” of the foster care system — usually at age 18. Many are not yet equipped with the resources and knowledge necessary to live on their own, and nearly 26% become homeless.
  • One-third of kids who live at Covenant House have had experience in the foster care system. We help them build the skills they need to transition from homelessness to independent adulthood, and we actively advocate for a system that helps those still too young to care for themselves.

Juvenile Justice System

  • Each year, about 100,000 young people exit the juvenile justice system. Most are discharged back to families struggling with domestic violence, substance use, unresolved mental health disabilities, and poverty.
  • For these at-risk kids, the juvenile justice system is a revolving door that returns them to the environment where their problems began.
  • Covenant House offers these young people stability while we work with them to understand and resolve legal issues.

Employment and Low Living Wages

  • Youth in households making less than $24,000 a year have a 162% higher risk of homelessness.
  • Since the 1990s, governments in both the U.S. and Canada have invested less and less in affordable housing and abandoned robust housing policies that would lift some of the burden from struggling families.
  • According to the most recent “State of Homelessness” report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 6.7 million U.S. households spent more than 50% of their income on rent and 4.4 million poor households “doubled up” (i.e., lived with family and friends) in 2017. They were at increased risk of homelessness.


  • LGBTQ youth comprise 40% of all youth experiencing homelessness, while they are just 7% of the total youth population in the U.S.
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth have a 120% higher risk of homelessness than their straight peers.

Human Trafficking

  • Human traffickers target kids facing homelessness. These young people present a low-risk business proposition and are relatively easy to lure from the streets with promises of love, protection, food, and financial security. Because of their vulnerability, children and teens with no place to call home and no one to care for them make easy prey for traffickers.
  • According to the Modern Slavery Research Project (MSRP) study of youth without homes:
    • 19% were identified as victims of some form of human trafficking
    • 14% were victims of sex trafficking
    • 8% had been trafficked for other forced labor

Pregnant and Parenting Youth

  • Pregnancy and parenting are common among young people facing homelessness, more so than among their stably housed peers.
  • About 44% of young women and 18% of young men, ages 18-25, who face homelessness report being a parent or pregnant.
  • Each year, hundreds of thousands of children—up to 1.1 million in the U.S. in 2017—live with a young mom or, less frequently, a young dad who is homeless.

Other Risk Factors

  • 46% of kids facing homelessness are fleeing violence at home.
  • Youth lacking a high school diploma or GED have a 346% higher risk of homelessness than those who completed high school.
  • Black or African American youth have an 83% higher risk of homelessness, and Hispanic, non-White youth have a 33% higher risk.

What’s being done to address these issues?

To put it simply, a lot. Covenant House is committed to providing a place of shelter and support for every at-risk young person who passes through our doors. We offer free primary health care, legal assistance, education and job training in addition to the love and compassion that all kids deserve. Each day that a young person wakes up, not on the streets but instead in a warm bed here at Covenant House, we will help them rebuild their lives.

See what services Covenant House offers kids in need and stay informed about recent news and developments by following our Newsroom.