Of the 567,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States, ten percent are unaccompanied or homeless youth. That’s roughly 35,000 young people, who by no fault of their own are without a safe, permanent, home, sometimes for a night to months at a time.
My exhibition highlights key causes of and demographics of youth affected by homelessness to identify areas where we can support youth and redirect them off the path of homelessness as well assist those who are currently homeless. As I approach graduation, I am looking forward to having more time and resources to devote to causes that are important to me, and this exhibit is like a precursor to that.
People don’t choose to be homeless, least of all young people. Leading causes of youth homelessness are out of the control of youth, and can be side effects of larger oppressive systems. This was my primary reason for choosing to study youth homelessnes; to highlight how we continuously fail youth as well as the greater homeless population with this vicious cycle. It is also important to acknowledge who is most at risk of youth homelessness so we can take action to help. LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to report homelessness at some point of the year compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Youth that are BIPOC are also at greater risk of experiencing homelessness. For example, the risk of experiencing homelessness in a 12 month time span is 83% higher for African–American youth compared to non African–American peers.
We should be aiming to protect, assist, and prevent youth from entering into homelessness, giving them the chance to recover, and overcome those factors out of their control that put them at risk in the first place.