What is the average age of homeless persons in America?
- Over 50
- Between 30 and 49
- Between 15 and 29
- Below 15
I really wonder how many would have guessed age 11, much less that it is a well-researched fact.
Cynthia Griffith writing for Invisible People offers some eye-opening data: The Average Age of a Homeless Person In America Might Surprise You. I can only offer some extracts here.
Everything you thought you knew about the homeless population is wrong, at least if your source is the one most people cite- the media or your own personal experience.
Typically, media outlets or your own eyes focus on the most visible homeless community members.
This paints a picture of rough city sleepers, grown men with unkempt beards and shopping carts.
Because poverty gives off an air of disgrace, and because the media cameras never fail to capture the most vulnerable members of society at their lowest moments, the actual state of homelessness is much less visible. One could even describe it as entirely invisible in the eyes of broader society.
One example of this is age.
When you form a mental picture of a homeless person in your mind, do you gravitate toward an image of a middle-aged person? Perhaps you are picturing a war veteran at a busy intersection with a tear-jerking sign. Or maybe you envision a struggling mother wrapped in a cloak of shame, shivering in the cold.
The last image is a bit closer to reality, but most people who see a woman in such a situation don’t look at the big picture.
Homeless mothers and fathers have children. Heartbreakingly, their children are more emblematic of the face of homelessness in the United States.
Here and now, 1 in 30 American children is homeless, an all-time high. And the average age of a homeless person in America is just 11 years old.
The Current Face of Homelessness Belongs to a Young, Helpless Child
Youth homelessness is exhibiting a startling upward trend. It is on the rise from state to state. Some notably dramatic increases include a 700% jump in Seattle and the tripling of homeless youth in Atlanta.
Kids are “stressed out” and spend years at a time relocating from one shelter to another. The walls of their dorm-style shelter rooms are covered in colorful pictures, a gallery of broken dreams as the harsh reality takes hold.
According to HUD, of the 140,000 children under the age of five residing in US homeless shelters in 2017, at least 30,000 of them were infants. This has led many to speculate that the average age of an emergency shelter resident is infancy.
Wait… there is more bad news…Many Homeless People Are Infants? The Sad Truth is Nobody Knows How Many!
… Newborns who do not survive homelessness are tragically treated as if they never existed at all. This is just one of the many daunting homeless truths the media has swept under the cradle while lulling the public to sleep.
As child homelessness continues to surge, a war on the poor is waged. Almost every single state across the nation has passed some form of anti-homeless legislation, making it illegal for people enduring the horrors of homelessness to do the things most of us take for granted, such as standing, sitting, and sleeping.
Social justice advocates once complained about the school-to-prison pipeline. But for this next generation, things are different. For homeless youth in a post-pandemic America, education is nearly impossible. Shelter homes run like halfway houses, institutionalizing fresh faces before they even have a chance to take a stand.
Contact your legislators and ask them what they’re doing to end homelessness before 1 out of every 30 children in America is not only invisible but voiceless
Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.