Our Residents

Who we serve:

  • Homeless teens and young adults between the ages of 12 – 23
  • Homeless families with an teen or young adult (between the ages of 12 -23) in the family dynamic
  • Homeless teenage and young parents

This means we have all ages living here at Casa de Belen — from infants to grandparents parenting a second time. Many of the people we serve aren’t any different that you, your children, family members or friends.

Runaway Teenage Boy Asleep in Alley

Why are youth homeless?
Causes of homelessness among youth usually fall into three interrelated categories:

  • Family Problems — Disruptive family conditions are the principal reason that young people leave home. This could include physical and sexual abuse, strained relationships, addiction of a family member, and parental neglect
  • Economic problems — Some youth become homeless when their families suffer financial crises resulting from lack of affordable housing, limited employment opportunities, insufficient wages, no medical insurance, or inadequate welfare benefits
  • Residential instability — Some youth become homeless with their families, but are later separated from them by shelter, transitional housing, or child welfare policies . A history of foster care correlates with becoming homeless at an earlier age and remaining homeless for a longer period of time.


Some of our Demographics:

  • abused teenAbout 60% of our youth residents report that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving and did not care
  • Approximately 80% of our residents report they have experienced physical, emotional, verbal, and/or sexual abuse
  • About 20% of our residents report they have had issues with substance abuse and approximately 80% come from homes with substance abuse issues
  • Most of our residents come from families that have experienced generational poverty and their families are disproportionately poor or working class
  • A majority of our residents report a history of family disruption — growing up in single-parent households or “blended” (i.e., stepparent) and a significant
    number of our youth have not had significant contact with their non-custodial parent
  • About 50% of our youth residents have been associated with child welfare involvement
  • Approximately 45% of our residents report they have been diagnosed with or treated for mental health issues, however, behavioral problems, such as conduct or oppositional defiant disorder, are even more prevalent than mental health problems
  • Our residents are pretty much equal when it comes to gender, with about 50% male and female clients
  • Race/ethnicity— Our race/ethnicity distribution mimics that of our community
  • Approximately 10% of our residents identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
  • About 25% of our youth residents have had to repeat at least one grade in school

Many of our residents come with a long history of abuse and neglect, poor experiences of parenting, little self worth, and a deep conviction that they are going nowhere and they are worth nothing. Some of the youth we meet are living with physical or mental challenges, addiction, legal histories, and negative family influences. Many of the people we serve are overcoming obstacles caused by trauma they have experienced in their lives and are on the way to becoming champions!  

pots_image2In 2015 we served 98 unduplicated homeless teens and/or their family members.

They were referred to us from:
26 DHS
13 Self Referrals
10 Other non-profits (UCAN, Family Development Center, Samaritan Inn, etc.)
9 Casa Staff Outreach
6 Mental Health Professionals
5 211 Resource Line
5 Juvenile Probation
5 Battered Person’s Advocacy
5 Other Casa Residents
4 School
4 Family, friend, neighbor, etc.
1 Church

Their ages of our residents ranged from newborns (born while their parents lived at Casa) to age 56:
virgil and girls
5 were 1 year old or younger
5 were 2—5 years old
13 were 6-12 years old
35 were 13-17 years old
25 were 18-23 years old
15 were over the age of 24

Other Data:
22 were unaccompanied youth age 18 and under
13 were teenage parents
28 were single parents

Did you know that…

because of their age, homeless youth have few legal means by which they can earn enough money to meet basic needs?

many homeless adolescents find that exchanging sex for food, clothing, and shelter is their only chance of survival on the streets and they are at a greater risk of contracting AIDS or HIV related illnesses?

homeless youth face difficulties attending school because of legal guardianship requirements, residency requirements, improper records, and lack of transportation which creates challenges in obtaining an education and supporting themselves emotionally and financially?

in general, homeless youth are 3 times more likely to use marijuana and 18 times more likely to use crack cocaine than non-homeless youth?

runaway and homeless youth experience rape and assault rates 2 to 3 times higher than the general population of youth?