Homeless Emerging Adults: A Developmental Perspective

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Graduate School of Social Work


Navigating the transition from adolescence to adulthood is challenging for homeless emerging adults due to the absence of basic resources, sexual and physical victimization, psychological challenges, and unstable living conditions. To address the developmental issues associated with homelessness, this chapter utilizes a social estrangement framework to describe homeless emerging adults’ institutional/societal disaffiliation, human capital, identification with the homeless lifestyle, and psychological dysfunction. These terms are used to identify the developmental milestones associated with becoming adults in unconventional circumstances and during the nontraditional developmental processes experienced by homeless emerging adults. Intervention approaches are discussed in terms of services and barriers to care for homeless emerging adults. Policies are discussed that highlight the need for additional attention to service needs, mental health challenges, and criminal justice involvement of this population of emerging adults.

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