Sample Healthcare Paper on Youth Homelessness in California

There has been an increase in the number of homeless youths in California over the past decade. 78% of homeless youths in California are unsheltered (AHAR, 2018). Of all people in households with children in the United States, 11 out of every 10,000 were experiencing homelessness on a single night (AHAR, 2018). Moreover, the states of California and New York had the largest numbers of people experiencing homelessness and high rates of homelessness, at 33 and 46 people per 10,000 (AHAR, 2018). Homelessness does not have any boundaries, and national governments are developing comprehensive responses that leverage health and human services, public services, transportation, housing, code enforcement and even parks and recreational facility resources to assist persons who are homeless. A lot of homeless persons struggle from mental disorders and substance abuse. Conversely, lack of affordable housing, domestic abuse, lack of employment opportunities, and the rising cost of living and health care have contributed to cases of youth homelessness in the state of California. Moreover, hundreds of Californians are displaced due to natural disasters such as wildfires and floods. What is more, being one of the most expensive rental markets in America has made California unable to provide sufficient affordable housing stock to meet the demand of low-income households.

Homeless youths are individuals under the age of 21who are incapable of living with a relative or guardian in a safe environment due to financial constraints, domestic abuse, or lack of proper housing. They do not have a safe living arrangement. There are different kinds of youth who are homeless and they can be classified into; Youths at Risk of Separation from the Family, Runaway Youths, and Street Youths. Runaway youths are individuals whose age is less than 18 years and who deliberately absents himself or herself from home or a place of legal residence without the permission of the legal guardian or parents. Additionally, a street youth is one who uses a considerably large amount of time on the streets or other spots which increase his/her risk to sexual exploitation or abuse, delinquency acts, crime, drug abuse, or prostitution. On the other hand, youths at risk of separation from the family are those individuals whose age is less than 18 years and have a tendency of absconding from the family because the guardian or parent is unwilling or unable to provide the fundamental needs of the individual. These youths are at risk of entering the juvenile justice system or child welfare system due to inadequate resources being available to the guardian or parents to provide such basic needs.

It is estimated that there are about 36,361 unaccompanied homeless youths for at least one night in the U.S (AHAR, 2018). Of the 36,361, 40% of them are females while 30% of the unaccompanied youths staying in unsheltered locations were male. Additionally, homeless youths find it difficult to gain employment or to enroll and stay in school. This is because it is required that children have legal guardianship, a permanent address, and documentation to gain employment or enroll in school. All these factors cloud their future with doubt. Furthermore, substance abuse is common among homeless youth in California. About 75 percent of the homeless youth have reported the drugs are what keeps them normal, free from anxiety and kills their appetite (Consequences of Youth Homelessness, 2019). Some factors that have contributed to this include peer pressure, depression, and boredom. Drug and alcohol use are often seen by homeless youth as forms of “self-medication” for depression and other mental health issues, as a social outlet for connecting with peers, or as an otherwise adaptive coping strategy for survival on the streets (Christiani et al, 2008). When homeless youths become hooked on hard drugs, it may lead them into delinquency acts such as committing crimes for money and cause them to contract deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C through sharing of syringes. The state of California, in collaboration with the national government, has set up rehabilitation centers for these youths with the aim of revitalizing them.

All youth deserve the opportunity to permanently exit homelessness, and California’s communities need a continuum of programs and services that will make this vision a reality (AHAR, 2018). The California State Legislature dedicated over $700 million in the 2018 budget to address homelessness, following the passage of a package of affordable housing bills in 2017 (Martin, 2018). This was intended to provide housing facilities to homeless youth, provide mental health services and assist youths who are victims of domestic abuse and sexual exploitation. There is a need to create a system which response efficiently and rapidly to the issue of homelessness in California. Some of the reasons which have led to the increase of homeless youth in California include; unstable homes, sexual abuse, mental problems, physical, and emotional abuse. These, among others, cause them misery; and they may view running away from home as the solution to it leading them to become homeless. The state of California has a meager and under-resourced set of funded programs in place to, directly and indirectly, support youth experiencing homelessness. They include; Child Welfare Council, Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council, and California Youth Crisis Line. The Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council oversees implementation of Housing First regulations among any state-funded agency or program, and identifies resources, benefits, and services to prevent and end homelessness in California while the Child Welfare Council, an informal group of state agencies that serve children, youth, and their families was created to enhance collaboration and eliminate duplicative efforts. The California Youth Crisis Line is a 24-hour statewide project that connects homeless and runaway youths with local services like shelter, counseling, access to a warm meal, and/or a way to communicate with their parent or guardian.

The issue of youth homelessness in California is one that can be solved. Already, there is a Federal model that has been created with the goal of preventing and ending youth homelessness. There is need to create programs from a positive youth development model that is culturally and linguistically competent, takes a trauma-informed, harm reduction approach, and honors youth choice (A Call to Action, 2018). The Housing for a Healthy California program (HHC) was created by Assembly Bill 74 to create supportive housing for Californians experiencing chronic homelessness or cycles of hospitalizations or nursing home stays and homelessness (Martin, 2018). Moreover, the homeless Coordinating and Financing Council is another project that has set specific and measurable goals towards preventing and ending homelessness among youth in California. This has been done by collecting and analyzing data of young people experiencing homelessness in California, assessing their delinquency status, dependency status, housing status, family reunification status, and runaway status. According to Colletti (2018), the homeless Coordinating and Financing Council aims to provide technical assistance and program development support to increase capacity among new and existing service providers to best meet statewide needs, particularly in areas where service for young people experiencing homelessness have not been established, and provide support to service providers in making evidence-informed and data-driven decisions. These goals are aimed at decreasing the duration and experiences of homelessness.

While interim interventions can keep people safe temporarily, they do not solve homelessness unless coupled with pathways to permanent housing (Martin, 2018). There needs to be a plan which provides direction for elected officials and staff in how to make decisions about addressing the issue of homelessness and allocation of resources in California. Local governments should collaborate with various partners such as nonprofit organizations, the business community, the churches, and philanthropic organizations in order to address homelessness among youth. They should pool their resources together and work towards a common goal of eradicating homelessness among youth. Moreover, in order to end the experiences of homelessness for families and individuals in California, there needs to be a long term housing solution. The lawmakers of California, together with system partners should formulate a plan that implements a systemic approach to eradicate youth homelessness altogether. Moreover, they should provide the necessary funding required to facilitate the building of shelters and rehabilitation centers so as to solve homelessness. Also, they should encourage innovation where the intervention aims at reforming, counseling, and rehabilitating the homeless youth who are involved in delinquency activities, crime, and drugs. These initiatives will help solve the puzzle of homelessness among youth in California.



A call to action: Prevent and end youth homelessness in California.  California Coalition for Youth.  Retrieved from

Martin, C. (2018).  Policy brief: California state funding to tackle homelessness. Retrieved from ing_to_tackle_homelessness.pdf

Key federal terms and definitions of homelessness among youth.  Retrieved from Homelessness.pdf

Colletti, J. (2018).  California homeless youth act of 2018: Update.  Homeless and housing

strategies for California.  Retrieved from

California Homeless Youth Act of 2018: Update

The 2018 annual homeless assessment report (AHAR) to Congress.  (2018). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Retrieved from

Christiani, A., Hudson, A., Nyamathi, A., Mutere, M., & Sweat, J. (2008).  Attitudes of homeless and drug‐using youth regarding barriers and facilitators in the delivery of quality and culturally sensitive health care. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing21(3), 154–163.

Consequences of youth homelessness.  National Network for Youth.  Retrieved from