Seattle Youth Homelessness: 5 Things You Didn’t Know

By United Way of King County, on April 17, 2017 | In Helping Students Graduate

Youth homelessness? It’s a thing, including for Seattle youth. Kids and teens are homeless too, not just adults.

Why youth: There are 5,000 youth who are homeless or couch-surfing (aka unstably housed) every year in the Seattle and King County area. Plus 14,000 youth like Ingrid without a job or high school diploma. They’re not headed for much stability in life.

With the All-Star Softball Classic coming up, at-risk Seattle youth are heavy on our hearts. Here are 5 numbers on King County and Seattle youth homelessness that might surprise you. Five stats that we hope will rock you a little, and maybe even ignite you into action.

  1. Homeless and unstably housed youth come from nearly every ZIP code in King County. Yep, even in the more traditionally affluent neighborhoods, there’s a teen who’s couch-surfing or dealing with volatile home life that could crumble at any moment.
  2. 34% of kids aging out of foster care become homeless within one year. So you’re 18 and about to “age out” of foster care. Where do you go? You’re supposed to magically know all the life skills you’ll ever need and become a responsible renter or homeowner on your 18th birthday. Not to mention the multiple times you probably switched foster homes as a kid or teen. All those moves leave little room for anything but surviving and fitting in.
  3. 53% of homeless youth are kids of color. Census shows King County as about 70% white, so 30% people of color. 53% is a lot more than 30%. The disparity is noticeable.
  4. 27% are LGBTQ. Many are dealing with abuse at home, bullying at school, and overall very little support. The streets may be where they’re accepted the most.
  5. 75% are enrolled in school or have achieved high-school equivalency. Meaning they’re doing homework without an actual home. Studying for standardized tests on a a city bus at 11 at night.

Those numbers aren’t fun and this wasn’t a light blog post to write, even with sun shining through the window. But even the New York Times wants you to know more about youth homelessness in its recent story about this young man going to college while homeless.

But that’s why we need the community—that’s you—to come together to give youth a giant group hug. Let’s help them get back on track for a stable life. The All-Star Softball Classic is where it’s happening.

Promise something: that you’ll think of these numbers a few more times this week. When you’re at the library, glance at the kids section. When you’re on the bus, take note of the teens riding with you. They might just be struggling with more than you think.


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