Why Kids are Homeless on Whidbey Island
The face of homelessness has drastically changed over the past few years. Gone are the days of bums sleeping on park benches with a bottle in a paper sack hanging out of their hand. Now we are seeing homeless families, seniors, and unaccompanied youth. The average age of a homeless person in America is 9 years of age.(2017). Most people assume that homeless kids are runaways who don’t want to follow the rules at home or juvenile delinquents who are in trouble. The over 200 youth who we are trying to support are kids who are trying to change their lives by removing themselves from their living situations.
When a child is sleeping in a car because it is a safer place then home, there is major cause for concern. There are many reasons why these students are homeless. Approximately 26% leave home due to a parent or parents with substance abuse issues. Neglect also comes into play during these scenarios; parents are so busy with their own issues, they cannot focus on their children. The next largest population of homeless students (approx. 20%), live in homes where abuse is the reason for their departure.
We also have a large group of students who are homeless because their families, even though stable, do not approve of their lifestyle. The majority are those youth are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgender.
A much smaller number of students are spending time with kids their parents don’t approve of, so they are either kicked out of the home or move in with those friends.
Some other reasons for student’s becoming homeless: a parent’s inability to financially support their child, failed adoption or foster care, or mental illness affecting the parent. There are also a small percentage of kids who are involved in drugs, gang relations, or who have issues with juvenile delinquency.
Whidbey Island also has an escalating number of military kids whose parents have been relocated. These kids often convince their parents to let them stay with friends, just to find themselves homeless when they are asked to vacate due to a variety of circumstances. Ryan’s House For Youth believes that there is no good reason for a child to be denied the opportunity of a safe home environment. They are all entitled to regular meals, clean clothes, a place to take a hot shower, and the support of caring adults.
If you are concerned about the issue of homeless teens in our area as much as we are, please click the donate button below and help us create safe housing for these children. Every dollar counts – your donation is greatly appreciated.