National Homeless Youth Awareness and National Runaway Prevention Month

How many students in the United States are experiencing homelessness?

During the 2019-2020 school year, public schools in the United States identified and enrolled 1.2 million homeless students, representing 2.5% of the total K-12 student population. However, the actual number of students who self-report as homeless or housing insecure is estimated to be closer to 2.5 million youth per year.
According to the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) as of June 2022, close to 51,000 homeless students have been identified across the 80 public school districts and 380 plus charter schools in Los Angeles County. 4.3% of students or 1 out of every 20 students currently resides in a homeless situation in LA County. 

Facts About Youth Homelessness

  • Black high school students are 2.25 times more likely to experience homelessness, and Hispanic high school students are 2 times more likely to experience homelessness, than white high school students.
  • Students with disabilities represent 19% of all homeless students.
  • 33% of homeless youth had once been in the foster care system.
  • 50% of homeless youth have been in the juvenile justice system.
  • 29% of homeless youth report having substance misuse problems.
  • 69% of homeless youth report mental health problems.
  • 27% LGBTQ youth who are homeless reported exchanging sex for basic needs compared to 9% of non-LGBTQ youth who reported having to exchange sex for basic needs.
  • 62% of LGBTQ youth report being physically harmed while experiencing homelessness while 47% of non-LGBTQ youth reported being physically harmed while homeless.
  • The lack of a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) is the number one correlate for elevated risk of youth homelessness.

The Link Between Youth Homelessness and Educational Disruption

According to a report titled "Missed Opportunities: Education Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness in America," the ninth in a series of Research-to-Impact briefs by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago on understanding and addressing youth homelessness, there is a strong link between youth homelessness and educational disruption.
The introduction to the report says, "Young people experiencing family instability and trauma are at increased risk for unstable living situations and interrupted educational experiences. Youth who leave school before graduation were considerably more likely to experience homelessness. Likewise, youth and young adults who experience homelessness were less likely to enroll in college." 
This bidirectional relationship is best illustrated by the below infographic, which was included in the  PDF summary of the brief
graph showing the bidirectional nature of educational attainment and homelessness

How do schools support homeless students?

The Education for Homeless Children and Youths (EHCY) program, authorized under the McKinney- Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act), is designed to address the needs of homeless children and youths and ensure educational rights and protections for these children and youths. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amended the McKinney-Vento Act, and changes made by the ESSA will take effect on October 1, 2016. 

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act) (42 U.S.C. § 11431-11435) is federal legislation that ensures the educational rights and protections of children and youth experiencing homelessness. It requires all local educational agencies (LEAs) to ensure that homeless students have access to the same free, appropriate public education, including public preschools, as provided to other children and youth. Under this program, state education agencie (SEAs) make grants to local education agencies (LEAs) that must be used to facilitate the educational enrollment, attendance, and success of homeless children and youth. Program funds may be used for activities such as tutoring, supplemental instruction, and referral services, and to provide homeless children and youth with medical, dental, mental, and other health services. School-based McKinney-Vento liaisons for homeless children and youth in each LEA are responsible for coordinating services for these youth with other programs. 

Defining "homeless"

The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youth as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition also includes:

  • Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, etc.
  • Children and youth who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or shelters
  • Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
  • Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings, or
  • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above

How does YouthBuild Charter School of California support homeless and housing insecure students? 

When a student first enrolls at YouthBuild Charter School of California, they'll fill out several forms, including our enrollment application and Housing Questionnaire, which helps us determine whether or not they are homeless/housing insecure. 

Students experiencing homelessness are entitled to immediate enrollment at YouthBuild Charter School of California; even if 1.) they have missed any application or enrollment deadlines during any period of homelessness and 2.) they do not have required documents, such as school records, records of immunization and other required health records, proof of residency, guardianship, or other documents.

Homeless Education Intake Form

Once a student has been identified as homeless, we ask them to fill out our "Homeless Education Intake Form" where they can identify other services that they need support with. Below is a screenshot of the form for reference:

screenshot of our homeless education intake form

Students experiencing homelessness are also entitled to free meals and free transportation to and from school.

In addition to MSW interns and staff who can support with various services requested in the Homeless Education Intake form, most of our 15 school sites also have clothing, hygiene kits, and school supplies available for any homeless students who need them. 

Meet Our Local Homeless Liaison

photo of Tizoc BrenesOur local homeless liaison is principal Tizoc Brenes. He can be reached by phone at 213-741-2600 or by email at [email protected]. If you are a YCSC student or parent of a student experiencing homelessness and need support, please do not hesitate to reach out to Mr. Brenes.



Show Your Support

Join us in supporting our fight to end child and youth homelessness by wearing green on Fridays in November.
We also encourage you to share the following resources with young people who are homeless or housing insecure:
  • 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline number for youth runaways
  • Win App – Los Angeles: Our Children LA put together Win App, which is an app and website that allows users to search for food, shelter, crisis support, health services, legal aid, hotlines, education, jobs, benefits, transit and more. Click here to view/browse their resources.
  • is a quick way to find resources in your area. Simply plug in your zip code and it will help you find food assistance, help paying bills, and other free or reduced cost programs, including new programs for the COVID-19 pandemic. There are categories for food, housing, goods, transit, health, money, care, education, work, and legal assistance