Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



2013 Tyler, Kimberly A. and Rachel M. Schmitz. "Family Histories and Multiple Transitions among Homeless Young Adults: Pathways to Homelessness." Children and Youth Services Review 35:1719-1726.


Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


This study explored the early family histories of homeless young adults, the types and number of transitions they experienced, and their pathways to the street. Intensive qualitative interviews were audio taped and transcribed with 40 homeless young adults 19 to 21 years of age in the Midwest. Findings show that family backgrounds were generally characterized by substance use, child maltreatment, and witnessing violence, all of which provide social context for understanding why so many of these young people opted to leave home in search of an alternative living situation. The current findings also reveal that while some young adults ran away from home as adolescents, others were “pushed out” (i.e., told to leave), or removed by state agencies. Current study findings illustrate that young adults’ trajectories are marked by multiple living arrangements such as home, foster care, detention facility, and drug rehabilitation. Overall, study results show that young adults’ family histories place them on trajectories for early independence marked by multiple transitions and numerous living situations, culminating in a lack of a permanent residence to call home.