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Prevalence and Correlates of Homelessness Among American Indian and Alaska Native Youth

Abstract

Youth homelessness is a serious national challenge affecting millions of young people every year. However, due to their relatively small population size, together with limitations related to data and research efforts on homelessness to date, prevalence estimates and evidence of homelessness experiences among American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) youth have been scarce. This is particularly the case at the national level. We report findings on the prevalence, characteristics, and correlates of AIAN youth experiencing homelessness that are based on a nationally representative survey on homelessness among adolescents and young adults, age 13 to 25. The overall national survey sample included 25,492 respondents. During a 12-month period, approximately 10.2% of AIAN households with 13–17 year olds reported youth homelessness or runaway experiences that lasted at least one night. For AIAN 18–25 year olds, the 12-month population prevalence of homelessness experiences was 12.2%. AIAN young adults had three times the prevalence rate of homelessness as their White non-Hispanic peers. Furthermore, most AIAN youth experiencing homelessness, like most AIAN people overall, reside in predominantly urban counties. Controlling for other variables, lower educational attainment, and parenting (especially if unmarried) were associated with higher likelihood of homelessness. There is a clear and urgent need for tailored, culturally-responsive homelessness prevention and intervention strategies, along with focused housing and support investments, for AIAN young people and the communities in which they live. The federal government and local jurisdictions need to take policy actions to address high rates of AIAN youth homelessness in urban and suburban communities, in addition to policies centered on AIAN reservations and rural communities.

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Acknowledgements

This research is the result of a collaboration involving the Voices of Youth Count (VoYC) team from Chapin Hall and many partners. External partners who provided methodological advice to this research included the VoYC Technical Advisors and Gallup, Inc., which fielded the survey and contributed additional technical expertise. The VoYC initiative is made possible through a grant from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R, Grant No. RP-16_IL-001) and generous support from Chapin Hall, Arcus Foundation (Grant No. G-PGM-1511-1561), Ballmer Group Philanthropy, Campion Foundation, Casey Family Programs (Grant No. FY14-1060), Dr. Inger Davis, Elton John AIDS Foundation (Grant No. 5202-00-00), Melville Charitable Trust (Grant No. 2015-015), Liberty Mutual Foundation, and Raikes Foundation (Grant No. 281).

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Correspondence to Matthew H. Morton.

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Morton, M.H., Chávez, R. & Moore, K. Prevalence and Correlates of Homelessness Among American Indian and Alaska Native Youth. J Primary Prevent 40, 643–660 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-019-00571-2

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Keywords

  • Native American
  • Tribal
  • Youth
  • Homelessness
  • Runaway
  • Housing stability