Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. Homeless Youth in the United States: Recent Research Findings and Intervention Approaches. Background Characteristics

03/01/2007

Regardless of their pathways into homelessness, homeless youth share many background characteristics and experience many of the same psychosocial problems (MacLean, Embry, & Cauce, 1999). For example, they tend to come from low-income communities (McCaskill, Toro, & Wolfe, 1998) and their families are disproportionately poor or working class (Whitbeck et al., 1997). It is also not uncommon for homeless youth to report a history of family disruption. Many grew up in single-parent households or “blended” (i.e., stepparent) families (Boesky, Toro, & Wright, 1995; Greenblatt & Robertson, 1993), and a significant number of these youth have not had any contact with their non-custodial parent (Greenblatt & Robertson, 1993). The families of homeless youth also seem to have experienced far more residential moves than those of their housed peers (Cauce et al., 2000; Toro & Goldstein, 2000). In other words, their homelessness seems to be part of a longer pattern of residential instability.

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