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Our Center’s Newest Training Focusing on Unhoused Youth

By Anne Doyle

unhoused youth
unhoused youth

According to the Youth Homelessness Overview from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), approximately 4.2 million youth and young adults in the U.S. experience homelessness each year, and it is estimated that 700,000 of these are unaccompanied minors (2023). Homelessness, including youth homelessness, is a significant and tragic problem currently facing the United States.

However, homelessness, and even the rhetoric of homelessness, is often met with stigma toward individuals who experience it. Our Center’s newest training focusing on unhoused youth plans to address the stigma and deconstruct negative stereotypes and biases associated with homelessness. One of the first ways of deconstructing stigma is examining how individuals speak about homelessness, even the word “homelessness.” Home often has a great deal of meaning attached to it for many individuals. There are different sayings that highlight its importance: “Home is where the heart is,” “There’s no place like home,” and others. This can be incredibly disheartening for individuals who do not necessarily have a home or a stable home. Therefore, our Center is advocating for the use of “unhoused” rather than “homeless.” Home is more than just a physical location, it’s also a feeling. Homes can be found and/or created, so using “homeless” can leave people feeling as though they don’t have that special place and are somehow less because of that. On the other hand, “unhoused” reflects a more temporary state and the connotation seems less like they are without or missing something. 

In addition to addressing the stigma associated with homelessness and deconstructing stereotypes, this training also intends to examine the systemic issue related to housing and transportation and how these factors contribute to the prevalence of homelessness in the U.S. Finally, the training will provide a resource guide created by one of our trainers, which hopes to continue growing to act as a resource for other centers and communities.

Although all the details for this training have not yet been determined, it is most likely going to be a two or three-hour training that our Center is hoping to have a pilot for in March of this year. The inspiration for creating this training came from our trainers who have worked in social work and are passionate about bringing more awareness to this problem. Although many of our Center’s training courses are geared toward Division of Social Services (DSS) workers, this training is going to be for anyone because many other professions (teachers for example) encounter this problem and its symptoms. 

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