Chapin Hall’s Dr. Matthew Morton Connects Research to Policy at Congressional Hearing

Chapin Hall’s growing body of research on youth homelessness has direct implications for federal policy. To clarify those connections, Dr. Matthew Morton testified today at a congressional hearing hosted by the Education and Labor Committee, Subcommittee on Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services.

“Good data can help make the invisible, visible,” Morton said. “Evidence can help us know where and how to make things better for all our nation’s youth. As long as millions of youth do not live up to their potential as individuals, we don’t live up to our potential as a nation.”

Morton reviewed the major findings of Chapin Hall research on this topic, which include:

  • At least one in 30 adolescents, ages 13-17, endures some form of homelessness within a 12-month period. With young adults, ages 18-25, the prevalence climbs to one in 10 young adults reported some form of homelessness within a year.
  • The proportion of youth experiencing homelessness is the same in rural as in urban areas.
  • Some youth have a much higher likelihood of experiencing homelessness. These include youth of color, LGBTQ youth, those without a high school diploma, and those who have been in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
  • Youth experiencing homelessness have frequently experienced extreme loss; a startling 35 percent of youth reported the death of at least one parent or primary caregiver.

“The federal government plays a critical role in supporting data to inform policy in a broad range of areas,” Morton said. “Likewise, we encourage Congress to consider its role in enabling the replication of national data on youth homelessness so that we can track our progress toward the goal of ending youth homelessness and tailor strategies as needed. We cannot end youth homelessness in the dark.”

In addition to supporting funding data collection, Morton emphasized other federal efforts that have a direct effect on youth homelessness, including lengthy delays in federally funded resources and services. Such delays contribute to the trauma experienced by youth when homeless.

“Adolescence and young adulthood are key developmental periods in our lives,” said Morton. “Every day of housing instability represents missed opportunities to support young people’s healthy development so that they can contribute to vibrant communities. We all lose out in these missed opportunities.”

Other speakers at the hearing included Dr. Melinda Giovengo of YouthCare in Seattle, WA; Robert Lowery Jr. of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; and David Baker of YMCA Youth & Family Services in San Diego.

Download Testimony

Written testimony submitted on youth experiencing homelessness to the Committee on Education & Labor of the U.S. House of Representatives.