Who Is Supporting Homeless Youth? Predictors of Support in Personal Networks


  • This research was supported by Grant R01DA020351 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (PI: Tucker). We thank the youth who shared their experiences with us, the service agencies that collaborated in this study, and the RAND Survey Research Group for their assistance in data collection. We also thank the editor and reviewers for their valuable input on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Kayla de la Haye, RAND Corporation, 1776 Main Street, PO Box 2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138. E-mail: delahaye@rand.org


Homeless youth lack the traditional support networks of their housed peers, which increases their risk for poor health outcomes. Using a multilevel dyadic analytic approach, this study identified characteristics of social contacts, relationships, and social networks associated with the provision of tangible and emotional support to homeless youth (= 419, M age = 20.09, SD = 2.80). Support providers were likely to be family members, sex partners, or non–street-based contacts. The provision of support was also associated with contacts' employment and homelessness status, frequency of contact, shared risk behaviors, and the number of network members that were homeless and employed. The results provide insights into how homeless youth could be assisted to develop more supportive social networks.