New Research Report on Survivial Sex on the Streets

The Urban Institute has released “Surviving on the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW engaged in Survival Sex” February 2015

This 88 page report was funded by the Office of Juvenile, Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs and the US Department of Justice.

In 2011, researchers from the Urban Institute launched a 3 year study of participation in survival sex by teens and young adults.

While not all homeless Unaccompanied Youth have to resort to this for survival, here are a few salient facts from the research:

Over half of youth (54 percent) used their earnings to buy food as their first priority. Thirty-six percent bought clothing as their first priority, 21 percent paid their cell phone bills, 16 percent bought marijuana, 13 percent bought cigarettes, and 10 percent bought toiletries or necessities.

Of the 43 youths in an exploitative situation, 34 percent met their exploiter through a friend or peer, 27 percent on the street, 20 percent through a family member, and 16 percent in their neighborhood or at service provider facilities.

More than 8 in 10 youth (82 percent) sayouthid there were positive things about engaging in survival sex—with most of these 225 respondents citing income (68 percent) or the fact that trading sex helped fulfill their basic needs for food and shelter (25 percent).

LGBTQ youths’ past experiences are drivers for their current situations. These experiences include racism; family poverty; homelessness and its associated stigma; lack of adequate or safe housing options; lack of access to gender-affirming medical care; and rejection and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by families, communities, and employers.

What we can glean from these statistics is that many of the young people who are engaging in survival sex are homeless in their hometown: they do not have a familial support system or normative social capital they can rely on to help them through a difficult time.

Click here to read the full report.