Just what exactly does it mean to be homeless?

Most homeless teens– although not all–move from couch to couch, from friend’s house to friend’s house, and sleep in halls, tents, and sometimes under bridges if they have no other option. They trade favors for places to stay and are often sexually exploited. They don’t know where they’re going to sleep each night.

But regardless of where they live, the shared experience of runaway and homeless youth is instability. They don’t feel safe or welcome in their own homes, and where they may currently find shelter, is not permanent. It is only available until they’ve worn out their welcome, or it comes at a costly price.

Homeless youth are not visible in the classic ways many perceive homelessness, i.e., sleeping on street corners, panhandling or passing out drunk. Because of their vulnerability, they hide, which is why they have been called an “invisible” homeless population.

Read our Current Stories to learn more about what homelessness is like for youth in Fairbanks.


This short film, from the Reciprocity Foundation, details the lives and experiences of homeless youth, and helps the viewer break their misunderstandings about homeless youth.  We encourage you to watch.