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Youth homelessness in Illinois and Chicago is a persistent crisis. A 2005 study by the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that in a one-year period 25,000 youth in Illinois between the ages of 12 and 21 experience homelessness.
Teen Living Programs serve youth ages 13 to 24 who became homeless because of serious family issues, including substance abuse, and physical or sexual abuse. Many are ostracized due to their sexual orientation. While escaping these situations and leaving their homes may provide temporary relief, life on the streets carries the serious threat of increased suffering from predators, disease, and greater physical deprivation.
Despite all of this, here’s how our youth describe themselves: amazing, different, unique, resilient, self-motivated, determined, loving, caring, persevering—or, as one youth put it, “Teens struggling with the issues of life.” In this way, they’re not unlike many other American teenagers.
The vast majority of the youth we serve are African-American, with the remaining 10-15% coming from other backgrounds. About a third of these young people identify as LGBTQ. Most youth originate from the South or West sides of Chicago, neighborhoods often characterized by high poverty rates, gang violence, and substandard housing.
Click here to read our amazing client stories.