Social Capital and Homeless Youth: Influence of Residential Instability on College Access


  • William G. Tierney University of Southern California


Higher Education, Social Capital, Homeless Youth, College Access


This article examines the experiences homeless youth face and the influence of social networks on their education. Using a social capital framework, we analyze the experiences that are different for poor youth in general and those homeless. Data used include interviews with 123 homeless youth and more than 40 policymakers, school counselors, and after-school program coordinators. Youth identified three aspects of their lives that influence network development associated with college access: mobility and stability, meeting basic needs, and anonymity and shame. The temporary nature of their residential stability requires a systemic response by educational institutions.