Youth homelessness in Illinois, especially Chicago, is a persistent crisis. A 2005 study done by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed in a one-year period 25,000 youth in Illinois between the ages of 12 and 21 experience homelessness.
Teen Living Programs assists young people between the ages of 14 and 24 who became homeless because of serious family issues, including substance abuse, and physical or sexual abuse. Many are ostracized due to their sexual orientation. While escaping these situations and leaving their homes may provide temporary relief, life on the streets carries the serious threat of increased suffering from predators, disease, and greater physical deprivation.
Despite all of this, here’s how our youth describe themselves: amazing, different, unique, resilient, self-motivated, determined, loving, caring, persevering—or, as one youth put it, “Teens struggling with the issues of life.” In this way, they’re not unlike many other American teenagers.
Last year we reached thousands through our outreach efforts and intensively assisted over 500 young people. Combined they self identified as: 49% female, 51% male; 81% African-American, 3% Caucasian, 6% Hispanic, and 10% of other ethnicity; and about a third identified as LGBTQ.
Each young person who is experiencing homelessness has a distinct history, personal challenges and triumphs, a unique story to tell. We thank the youth who allowed us to share their stories. Names have been changed to respect their privacy.
TLP is the place
TLP is helping