The data

The viz uses data from the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, a 20-minute online survey conducted every 2 weeks that studies how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting households across the country from a social and economic perspective. The survey asks questions about how childcare, education, employment, food security, health, housing, household spending, and intention to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, have been affected by the ongoing crisis. Individuals ages 18-25 located in Washington state were isolated because they're the population A Way Home Washington (AWHWA) serves.

The visualization

This dashboard is divided into themes beyond housing security to show how the impacts of COVID-19 is being felt by young adults on varying fronts and across age groups in Washington State. Comparisons between Washington and other states in the US can also be examined. AWHWA focuses on preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness; the dashboard aims to reflect the many aspects of young people’s lives that affect their housing security, and vice versa. You are able to filter by race/ethnicity, age, income bracket, highest education level, vaccination status and whether or not respondents had COVID-19 (even though this data is limited at this stage). 

The historical context

LGBTQ+ and young people of color, particularly Black/African American, Indigenous and Latinx young people experience homelessness at higher rates than their presence in the general population. Reasons why young people become homeless can range from family instability, to systemic and institutional racism in public systems that they encounter such as schools, and the juvenile justice and child welfare systems that often discharge young people into homelessness. These inequities are compounded by the limited political power and financial resources young people between the ages of 18-25 hold. Many young workers are employed in leisure and hospitality which have been the professions hardest hit by COVID-19. Due to their age, young people are often invisibilized and their needs disregarded. COVID-19 has only exacerbated existing inequities and injustices in this age group. Food and housing security, employment, education, and mental and physical wellbeing are all affected. 

The current implications

Ending youth homelessness is possible, but will only happen when young people’s basic needs are met. Given the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, having current data to reflect young people’s situation is all the more important so that recovery efforts can adequately meet their needs. The data provides evidence that young people, especially Black young people, are having a hard time mentally, financially, and with food, employment, and housing security, compared to other age groups in Washington. Using this data, advocates can work to ensure that young people receive the housing, food, and employment resources they need during the COVID-19 recovery.

For more on this dashboard, the analysis, and A Way Home Washington, check out this blog post.

Data Deep-Dive

Key takeaways to guide analysis

Insights to Pulse Survey data

New Household Pulse Survey data is released every two weeks and the dashboard will continue to be updated. The small subset analyzed (18-25 year olds in Washington) represents only a portion of the full national dataset. COVID-19 data is a recent addition, therefore, data is limited. The aggregation of racial categories is limited to Black or African American, Asian, White, and other.

COVID-19’s impact on youth mental health

Over 80% of respondents were experiencing anxiety and over 70% were feeling depressed. When comparing mental health, food, housing and financial security indicators across age groups in Washington state, on average, young adults are consistently experiencing the worst impacts of COVID-19 across almost all of the indicators.The majority of young people are struggling with mental health concerns (anxiety, depression, worry) and this is consistent across racial groups.

A pandemic of food and housing insecurity

During the pandemic, only 50% of Black/African American young adults reported having enough of the foods they wanted to eat. Asian young people were the most food secure pre-pandemic and Black/African American young people were the least. During the pandemic, Asian young people had the highest percentage point drop in the percentage of young people who had enough of the foods they wanted to eat. Black/African American young people were the least likely to be caught up on rent and the least confident to be able to afford their rent next month.