Understanding the attainment of stable housing: a seven-year longitudinal analysis of homeless adolescents

Stable housing provides a solid foundation for youth development, making it an essential topic of study among young homeless people. Although gains have been made in research with adolescents and young adults experiencing homelessness, few longitudinal studies of this population exist, clouding the long‐term housing outcome picture. The current study examined the course and risk factors for homelessness in a sample of 243 homeless adolescents followed over a 7‐year period. The vast majority of youth returned to stable housing quickly; however, early experiences of homelessness, even at this young age, were observed to have a substantial negative effect on future housing. Participants from poorer neighborhoods and those identifying as ethnic minorities also took longer to achieve stable housing. The data suggest that family reunification interventions may serve this population well. Preparing youth for returning home may not only prevent subsequent homeless episodes but also improve their overall functioning.

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Journal of Community Psychology