Building a movement to end youth homelessness

As our Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month blog series continues, this week we turn our attention toward efforts to end youth homelessness in the U.S.

Whether designing programs, determining policies, or developing strategies, the active involvement of young people with lived experience helps to ensure the success of intended solutions to youth homelessness.

"Nothing about us, without us”

As experts of their own experiences, needs, and aspirations, youth are central to ending youth homelessness. Communities engaging in authentic, meaningful partnerships with young people create opportunities for youth to serve as decision-makers in matters that impact their lives, and the lives of their peers. To help organizations create and support meaningful collaborations with young people, the True Colors Fund created the Youth Collaboration Toolkit in partnership with the National Youth Forum on Homelessness. The toolkit features guiding principles for youth collaboration, practical tools and resources, and examples of various youth engagement models.

Whether designing programs, determining policies, or developing strategies, the active involvement of young people with lived experience helps to ensure the success of intended solutions to youth homelessness.

Building a movement to end youth homelessness

Since the 2010 release of the federal strategic plan to end homelessness, momentum to end youth homelessness in the U.S. has reached historic levels. In recent years, this momentum has sprouted a number of national initiatives aimed at tackling the issue. These initiatives seek to elevate the voices of youth with lived experience of homelessness, to expand and improve the use of data to better understand and serve young people, and to help communities build their capacities to serve; such initiatives include Voices of Youth Count, A Way Home America, and Point Source Youth. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—with the help of the National Youth Forum on Homelessness—recently invested $33 million across 10 communities as part of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP), in order to develop coordinated community responses to and support innovations in preventing and ending youth homelessness.

Collaboration is key to ending youth homelessness

Ultimately, a spectrum of services and housing solutions that are developmentally appropriate—and that recognize and honor the diverse identities and experiences of young people—is required to resolve youth homelessness. Consequently, local efforts to address youth homelessness are most successful when collaboration and coordination occur across systems, and at various levels. These partnerships are critical to creating coordinated systems of care that are youth-inclusive, and to ultimately resolving a young person’s housing crisis and ensuring their long-term stability and success.

Key collaborators in preventing and ending youth homelessness include:

  • Youth with lived experience
  • Runaway and homeless youth services
  • Adult and family homeless services
  • School systems
  • Child welfare
  • Workforce development
  • Business community
  • Mental health agencies
  • Health care agencies
  • Faith-based community
  • Justice systems
  • Local and state government agencies
  • Federal partners

Next week, we conclude this blog series with how to take action to end youth homelessness, featuring additional resources to help individuals and organizations join the movement.

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