Just what exactly does it mean to be homeless?

Many homeless teens move from couch to couch and from friend’s house to friend’s house. They might sleep in hallways, stairwells, cars, tents, and other places not meant for human habitation. 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 housing instability. They don’t feel safe or welcome in their own homes, and though they may currently find shelter, it is not often permanent.

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