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What is the State Index on Youth Homelessness?

The State Index on Youth Homelessness provides a snapshot of some of the legal, systemic, and environmental barriers and complex challenges youth experiencing homelessness face. The Index also provides states, advocates, grassroots activists, and youth themselves with a tool recommending concrete steps that states can take to protect the safety, development, health, and dignity of youth experiencing homelessness, thereby helping end the cycle of homelessness and increasing youth’s prospects for a brighter future.

Why is it important?

An estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults up to age 24 experience homelessness each year in the United States, and we as a nation are not doing enough to change it. Youth experiencing homelessness, particularly those who are unaccompanied, face numerous challenges, which can include legal barriers to meeting the basic necessities of life and to accessing assistance.

Challenges also include systems that are difficult to navigate and harsh environments that discourage them from seeking help. Many of these barriers are embedded in state laws, policies, and systems that states must address to complement ongoing efforts to preventing and ending youth homelessness. But youth are also resilient: with appropriate and adequate supports and services, youth experiencing homelessness can rise above their circumstances, escape the cycle of homelessness, and have the opportunity to succeed and lead fulfilling lives.

How are states scored?

The Index looks at 61 metrics in 50 states and District of Columbia, assigning points up to 100. The metrics span across states’ laws and policies, systems, and environments that affect youth experiencing homelessness and influence state policy and program implementation. States are able to determine how they performed across these metrics and how they compare to other states.

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