The existing literature is currently limited in detailing the experiences of homeless youth’s hardships and strengths from their own perspectives. This study examined suffering among homeless youth and explored the strengths that helped them to survive everyday challenges. Youth were recruited from a Midwestern city in the United States to participate in this study. In depth open-ended life history interviews were conducted with 15 homeless youth (between the ages of 18-24 years). Qualitative analysis of the narratives from the youth revealed that they often experienced suffering through the loss of dignity, social support, security, freedom and hope. They continued to persevere by finding meaning in life, valuing oneself and finding support from external sources. This study included a convenience sample of 15 youth. Therefore, the findings have limited generalizability to other homeless youth. Homelessness threatens the very existence of the sense of self among youth. This paper suggests that interventions and programs need to build upon youths’ strengths to empower them to overcome the multifaceted struggles associated with homelessness. This paper contributes to the emerging literature on homeless youths’ assets and strengths.
Keywords: Youth, Homelessness, Qualitative Research, Strengths, Suffering