According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2014 report, 34 percent of the total homeless population is under 24. The numbers have only grown in recent years.

Many of us have a warm bed to sleep in at night and a roof over our head, but some do not. Look around at your school at the people there, you can never tell who has a home and who doesn’t.

Youth and young adult homelessness is a large issue in America, and it may be happening to the very people around you.

The Department of Justice estimates that every year, more than 1.7 million teens experience homelessness in the U.S. Some are even without families. Either these people have been kicked out of their home or ran away, they are out on the streets at night, alone.

According to a February 2018 study done by the Williams Institute, approximately 40 percent of all homeless teens identify as LGBTQ. Family rejection of sexual orientation is one of the most frequently cited reason for homelessness among LGBTQ homeless teens.

Not everyone is alone though. Many families in bad economic circumstances find themselves homeless. Lack of affordable housing, domestic violence and poverty force parents and children into homelessness.

Youth homelessness is a very widespread issue in America and a lot needs to be done to fix it. Everything has to start somewhere, and there are many things you can do to help, such as:

  • Volunteering at homeless shelters;
  • Educating others of the issues at hand;
  • Supporting mental health services;
  • Donating money to nonprofit organizations;
  • Putting up a flyer in your neighborhood describing where services are.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, don’t be afraid to contact a local shelter — there is nothing wrong with it.