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Poll: Gun violence, homelessness worry young Americans

Concerns over the US’s gun violence epidemic and the prospect of losing their homes have increasingly weighed on young Americans, according to a poll.

Highlighting the instability experienced among 18-29 year-olds, about half of all young Americans — 48 percent — said they have felt unsafe in the past month, according to the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School survey. About 40 percent reported being worried they could fall victim to gun violence amid repeated grisly mass shootings in the US.

Nearly three-quarters — 73 percent– said they agree homelessness can happen to anyone. A full 32 percent said they believe it could happen to them, with above-average responses coming from Latinos — 43 percent — and Black respondents — 39 percent.

The Spring 2023 Harvard Youth Poll included responses from 2,069 young Americans, and was conducted last month.

“The data collected in this poll clearly demonstrates not only the growing levels of political engagement among young people, but the urgency of addressing serious issues such as mental health, gun violence, housing, and more,” IOP Director Setti Warren said in a statement.

“The results of previous Harvard Youth polls have had a direct influence on public policy, and I expect to see that trend continue,” he added.

‘Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless’

Nearly half of all respondents — 47 percent — reported “feeling down, depressed, or hopeless” with 24 percent saying they have had thoughts that they would be “better off dead,” or have considered self-harm at some point during the past two weeks.

Nearly 45 percent said they have been bothered by feelings of loneliness while 55 percent reported “feeling nervous, anxious or on edge.”

“From fears of mass shootings to concerns of one day becoming homeless, the current state of Gen Z could perhaps best be summarized in one word: anxious,” said Ethan Jasny, student chair of the Harvard Public Opinion Project. “Young Americans have translated this fear into action, turning out to vote like their rights — and lives — depend on it.”

READ MORE: Over 1.5 million students were homeless in US during 2017-2018

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