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The Problem

Young adults face unique barriers and circumstances that lead them to experience homelessness. This cycle is perpetuated by discriminatory ideals and systems, detailed below. It is crucial to realize that, without proper awareness and access, many young adults will continue to struggle with housing insecurity and poverty.

Breaking Cycles Through Employment Breaktime & Metro North Workforce Partnership Launch (1

1 in 10

Young people ages 18-24 experience homelessness in a given year in the US

Causes of Young Adult Homelessness 

There are many factors that contribute to young adults and their experience of homelessness. Young adults face homelessness due to a variety of reasons, such as:

  • neglect

  • lack of housing security

  • not being accepted after coming out and then being kicked out

  • transitioning out of the foster care system

  • intergenerational poverty

  • abuse


of youth experiencing homelessness are unemployed

1 in 10 young adults is disconnected from school or work.

Young adults experiencing homelessness can’t just “get a job.”  Individuals experiencing homelessness face more barriers to gaining employment related to their housing status, including:

  • Lack of work experience

  • Work history gaps

  • Lack of transportation

  • Lack of address to put on application 

  • Physical disabilities

  • Mental health issues 


Alongside these personal and economic challenges, people experiencing homelessness face discrimination and exclusion throughout the hiring process as a result of their status.

Homelessness is a Cycle

For our associates, homelessness often manifests in a cycle. Without consistent access to well-paid jobs, our associates struggle to save money and build financial stability. Left unable to put money toward savings after first satiating immediate needs, like food or transportation, they in turn struggle to find stable housing. Our associates cannot access the job or financial security necessary to sustain housing, nor can they ensure the housing security necessary to access employment or financial security. This is the cycle of young adult homelessness.

Breaktime believes in curbing the cycle of young adult homelessness by bridging the gap between unemployment and housing security. By providing access to employment experience, financial stability, and a network of supporters, Breaktime fights the cycle of homelessness, providing the foundation for our associates to obtain housing.

Racial Discrimination

Most minority groups, especially Black and Brown Americans, experience homelessness at higher rates than White Americans. This can be attributed to the long history of structural racism and wealth inequity as well as denied rights and socioeconomic opportunities. 


African Americans, who represent 13 percent of the general population, account for 39 percent of people experiencing homelessness and more than 50 percent of homeless families with children.


Nearly one in four young Black men, ages 18 to 25, who identified as LGBTQ+ reported experiencing explicit homelessness in the last 12 months.


of people experiencing homelessness are BIPOC

Justice System

Research has consistently shown the connection between incarceration and homelessness. According to a 2018 report, formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to experience homelessness than the general public. Many people agree that this phenomenon has manifested as a reciprocal relationship; the pressing criminalization of homelessness leads to incarceration, and the lack of resources and support for previously incarcerated people leads to shelters and homelessness.

1 in 5

people who were in shelters had been released from prison in the past three years.

LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness 

Issues at home may be exacerbated when young adults have a different gender identity or sexual orientation than what is deemed acceptable by their family unit. Familial rejection is one of the leading causes for LGBTQ+ young adults to become unstably housed. LGBTQ+ youth are at more than double the risk of homelessness compared to non-LGBTQ+ peers.


of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+

Foster Care

The pipeline from foster care to homelessness is one that has taken prevalence during the past few years. There are over 407,000 children and youth in foster care across the country. 


Youth that age out of foster care into homelessness experience high rates of mental health disorders, physical or sexual assault, and lack of access to health care services.

1 in 4

youth in foster care will experience homelessness within 4 years of aging out of foster care.


Education can be a great pathway to escaping financial insecurity and housing instability. However, accessing education is made significantly more difficult when individuals are experiencing homelessness.


Youth with less than a high school diploma or GED have a 346% higher risk of experiencing homelessness than youth with at least a high school degree.


Because of the pandemic, the number of students experiencing homelessness that have been forced to set aside their education has steadily increased. Barriers to continuing their education include:

  • Lack of transportation

  • Discrimination in the classroom

  • Lack of resources and/or school supplies

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