Youth homelessness has dropped 40% in Washington since 2016

by Emily Marek

Youth homelessness in Washington dropped 40% during a six-year period. In 2016, nearly 24,000 people between the ages of 12 and 24 experienced homelessness statewide while just over 14,000 were homeless in 2022.

These details come from the “Yes to Yes” Washington State report, courtesy of the Raikes Foundation, the Schultz Family Foundation, A Way Home Washington and the Washington State Department of Commerce. According to that report, many adults living without stable housing first experience housing insecurity as young people — but prevention can decrease individual trauma and save the state money in the form of lower criminal justice, healthcare and public support costs.

A Way Home Washington says that one-time cash grants averaging $1,900 have a huge long-term impact on improving the housing stability of young people on the verge of homelessness. These grants, distributed by youth homelessness programs around the state — including the authors and sponsors of the “Yes to Yes” report — are typically used for apartment deposits or car repairs, but can also assist with financing for health services, legal aid, transportation, employment, housing and more. A Way Home Washington reports that one year later, 90% of youth who received housing money between 2016 and 2022 were stably housed.

“Youth homelessness is an urgent crisis. But it is a solvable problem,” Sheri Schultz, co-founder and chair of the Schultz Family Foundation, told Axios. “Showing up for young adults starts with compassion, empathy and love, and requires ensuring they have everything they need to reach their full potential.”

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