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“Underaged, Underserved, Undercounted: Policy Recommendations for Youth Homelessness in Chicago”

Author: Marisa Miles

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Abstract: Youth homelessness is a national issue affecting the smallest towns to the biggest cities. The City of Chicago needs policy interventions to mitigate homelessness in unaccompanied adolescent minors (ages 13-17).Risk factors include a youth’s sexual orientation, sexual activity, school problems, pregnancy, and substance use. Voices of Youth Count estimates at least 1 in 30 adolescents experience homelessness unaccompanied by a parent or guardian for over a year. Chicago Public Schools data shows 703 students were unaccompanied youth (not including dropouts). Homeless adolescents are the majority of people of color and or LGBTQ. In 2012, Chicago released an updated seven-year action plan to end homelessness titled Chicago’s Plan 2.0. The city has not followed through with the plans, and currently, Chicago needs to identify and execute new preventative measures to end youth homelessness. Focusing on adolescent (13-17 years old) homelessness as a preventative measure to end youth (13-25 years old) homelessness, create more avenues and resources that minors, and young adults alike can use. The methodology for the project includes a literature review from 2010 to 2022. The data was collected from academic research articles, Chicago government websites), and non-profit websites. Findings include Chicago youth under 18 can only access 47.3 % of drop-in resources. Homeless adolescents are under-counted in PIT homeless counting due to being less like on the streets and more likely to be Couch-surfing. The majority of shelters and housing programs are 18 and up.