Thousands of homeless youth in Bay Area are targeted for sexual exploitation

Photo purchased from iStock at Getty Images

Photo purchased from iStock at Getty Images

The number of homeless young victimized by commercial sexual exploitation in the Bay Area could be well over a thousand based on research indicating a third of homeless youth “are sexual” in exchange for survival needs. Sexual exploiters deliberately target homeless youth because of their desperate circumstances.

A research project from Covenant House, a non-profit shelter and service provider for youth, estimates an “undercount” of 3,827 homeless between the ages of 18 and 24 in the San Francisco Bay Area, which does not include homeless youth who are “couch surfing” or sleeping in cars. Nor does it include minors.

A "Street Outreach Program" study published by the US Administration for Children and Families in April 2016 revealed that that 28% of homeless youth “agreed to be sexual” with someone in exchange for “a place to spend the night” while 24% did so for money and 18% for food. A majority (64%) of the youth who received money for their sexual exploitation had never engaged in commercial sex before their homelessness.

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