Since launching our Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month blog series earlier this month, we have taken a closer look at the unique identities and experiences of young people experiencing homelessness and the elements of a growing movement to end youth homelessness in the U.S.
This week, in the spirit of #GivingTuesday – a global giving movement to help others through the gift of your time, donations, goods, or advocacy – we conclude our series with 7 ways you and your organization can end youth homelessness:
1. Engage in ongoing education and awareness
In addition to continuing your own learning, you and your organization can promote education and awareness of youth homelessness among friends and family, staff and colleagues, community partners and elected officials, and others. Resources include:
- Issue briefs from the National Network for Youth and the National Center for Homeless Education
- Various tools and resources for service providers and systems leaders from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
- Free online courses for direct care staff from the Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership, which cover adolescent risk and resiliency, trauma-informed care, and legal and ethical issues in serving young people experiencing homelessness
2. Contribute time, goods, services, or funds to local organizations serving young people
Regardless of your availability, resources, or interests, there are young people and organizations in your community who would be appreciative of your support. Find your perfect opportunity to give by visiting #GivingTuesday, VolunteerMatch, or Idealist. A list of ASR partner organizations, primarily located throughout the Bay Area and Central Coast regions of California, is available here.
3. Build meaningful partnerships with youth
Encourage and provide meaningful opportunities for young people with lived experience to partner in developing youth-inclusive programs, policies, and systems. Resources available to help individuals and organizations engage youth include:
- True Colors Fund Youth Collaboration Toolkit
- National Health Care for the Homeless Council’s Engaging Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Core Practices and Services
4. Join local coalitions and other stakeholder groups organizing to address homelessness
Your local Continuum of Care is a great place to learn about local initiatives and resources, get involved in systems planning, and connect with other coalition groups and community partners.
5. Facilitate cross-systems collaboration by building relationships with a variety of agencies in your community in order to better serve young people
Youth homelessness is a complex issue that requires coordination among education, child welfare, workforce development, justice, mental health, healthcare, housing, and other systems and community partners. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the Ending Youth Homelessness Guidebook Series, featuring a special focus on mainstream system collaboration to help communities build more coordinated systems of care.
6. Participate in local, state, and federal advocacy
Powerful policy and funding decisions impacting the lives of young people in the U.S. are made every year, and the housing affordability crisis means advocacy efforts are more important than ever to ensuring the health, safety, and success of our young people. To receive legislative updates and policy alerts, and to learn how to engage local elected offices in ending youth homelessness, follow the National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Network for Youth, California Homeless Youth Project, and California Coalition for Youth.
7. Support improved, expanded, and ongoing data collection and research
Estimating the size of the population, assessing housing and service needs, evaluating program models and interventions, bringing systems to scale, sharing data across systems, and engaging in data-driven decision-making are all critical elements to improving our responses to youth homelessness. Participating in local Point-in-Time Counts (contact your local Continuum of Care for details), using data to tailor and drive local solutions, and contributing to national efforts to track our progress are just a few ways to translate data into action.