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J Adolesc Health. 2011 Dec;49(6):615-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.04.021.

Finding shelter: two-year housing trajectories among homeless youth.

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1
Center for Community Health, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA. htevendale@cdc.gov

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The aim of this study was to (1) identify trajectories of homeless youth remaining sheltered or returning to shelter over a period of 2 years, and (2) to identify predictors of these trajectories.

METHOD:

A sample of 426 individuals aged 14-24 years receiving services at homeless youth serving agencies completed six assessments over 2 years. Latent class growth analysis was applied to the reports of whether youth had been inconsistently sheltered (i.e., living on the street or in a squat, abandoned building, or automobile) or consistently sheltered (i.e., not living in any of those settings) during the past 3 months.

RESULTS:

Three trajectories of homeless youth remaining sheltered or returning to shelter were identified: consistently sheltered (approximately 41% of the sample); inconsistently sheltered, short-term (approximately 20%); and inconsistently sheltered, long-term (approximately 39%). Being able to go home and having not left of one's own accord predicted greater likelihood of membership in the short-term versus the long-term inconsistently sheltered trajectory. Younger age, not using drugs other than alcohol or marijuana, less involvement in informal sector activities, being able to go home, and having been homeless for <1 year predicted membership in the consistently sheltered groups versus the long-term inconsistently sheltered groups in the multivariate analyses.

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings suggest that being able to return home is more important than the degree of individual impairment (e.g., substance use or mental health problems) when determining the likelihood that a homeless youth follows a more or a less chronically homeless pathway.

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