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Youth homelessness is completely solvable

With the right resources and legislative support we can create a right to housing for youth and young adults.

Welcome to the New Youth State Index

Take a closer look at the legislative state of youth homelessness and housing policy across the country by exploring our issue pages and maps.

Homeless youth face legal and systemic barriers to accessing essential resources and services, but state laws, policies, and systems can provide crucial protections and services for a smoother and more secure transition out of homelessness. But all of this requires housing.

The updated Index focuses primarily on housing policy – accessing, affording, and maintaining safe and habitable housing, free from discrimination and with additional supports and resources for youth who want them. It also focuses on systems that can help prevent (or that can cause) homelessness.

 

Our New Identity

The logo symbolizes the complexity and multifaceted nature of youth homelessness. The curves within represent the challenges and obstacles that homeless youth face, which are often intricate and intertwined. These squiggles also suggest that the State Index aims to unravel these complexities and provide clear solutions.

About Youth State Index

New Look, New Metrics, New Scoring

The Index now centers homeless youth and young adults’ experiences and needs as they navigate complex laws and systems to find housing. It recognizes policies and systems that can actually end or prevent youth homelessness, if effectively implemented.

 

Some states may receive lower scores than in previous iterations of the Index – this is intended to reflect the reality of our current youth homelessness crisis. Rather than being discouraged by a lower score, we urge states to seize the opportunity to implement policies that can help put an end to youth homelessness.

About Youth State Index

The State Index on Youth Homelessness
Overall Policy Map

The Index maps seek to illustrate the current state of legislative efforts to address youth homelessness, serve as a know your rights tool for currently unhoused youth, and suggest policies as a pathway forward.

This map depicts the overall score range for each jurisdiction after adding up the scores for each policy metric tracked by the State Index. Hover over the jurisdiction to find the exact score and click on the state or territory for more information. To search for and explore maps for each policy metric, click on the Explore by Policy button below. To access specific information for each state or territory, click on the Explore by Jurisdiction button below.

  • High Score | 71 to 94.5
  • Medium Score | 47.5 to 70.5
  • Fair Score | 24 to 47
  • Low Score | 0.5 to 23.5
  • Very Low Score | 0
  • Negative Score | -24.5 to -0.5
Message from YSI

Note from the authors

The Index is a tribute to all the young people, service providers, advocates, and policymakers who are tirelessly working towards eradicating youth homelessness. Unfortunately, we lost one of our champions, Gabriela Sevilla, co-author of the 2021 Index, who passed away on October 10, 2022. Her sudden departure has left those who knew her grieving for a life taken too soon. However, she also left behind an enduring legacy – a legacy of transforming ideas into actions, of making advocacy accessible, of leading with her heart and prioritizing the community.

Gabi, we are doing our best to continue your legacy, although it is difficult without you. Your memory shines bright and inspires us to keep it real and to keep striving for change.

Direct Quotes

Authentic Youth Engagement

This year’s Index is the first to include the insights and guidance of directly impacted youth and young adults. Their contributions in the creation of the improved Index cannot be overstated.

Jennifer Myers

(she/her)

Black women in America have additional stereotypes applied to us. When I apply for things my name signals whiteness but then my voice and physical appearance result in different treatment. This is straight up systemic racism. It discourages people from bringing their full self to situations due to systemic biases about Black people. People in services that don’t have lived experience often treat those seeking services poorly because they don’t understand our issues. I have the goal of going to an all Black college like Howard someday, where I will feel more empowered and accepted.

Jacqueline Robles

Liberation is ensuring that every person, regardless of who they are or how much income they have, has a home. Housing is a human right and basic need. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – basic needs first! Everyone has access to a home!

Joel Swazo

The money and resources that are being provided have too many barriers. Lack of documentation or other things necessary to qualify for support is a huge barrier. You have to be on the verge of homelessness or losing services in order to qualify for assistance. Things should be fixed BEFORE it gets to the point of almost losing housing or utilities.

E. Jasper McEwan

We had to take our pride flag off the porch because people would sit in our parking lot in their cars and watch our house. Faith based shelters are discriminatory against trans communities, like not being able to use showers that match their gender identity etc. We’re homeless and starving and sick and being shot in this country but those in power would rather talk about minorities or no fault divorce. The world keeps telling us that there is no room for people like us here, and sometimes people listen.

Kemi Adebisi-Oke

Affordable housing places that receive grants or govt money, that money should be put aside for repairs and maintenance. That money is not used properly. Current systems are just not adequate and there are always loopholes that can be exploited.

Makayla Dawkins

I come from a nontraditional family – lived with my grandmother because I had an incarcerated parent and my mother passed away. A custody battle ensued – a lot of loved ones were not fit to take me on. What I needed most was a clean space (uncluttered), a place to eat meals, transportation to and from school and activities. I did not have places to study and I have always been a high achieving student without the physical and mental space to fully feel safe and supported. In college there was a lack of understanding and support for dealing with a roommate with mental health issues. All of these things affected my feelings of safety.

Explore More

The Index is a tool and we hope you’ll find it useful

We hope that you will explore the State Index site and make use of the resources and information provided. We would love to know what you think! Please feel free to contact the authors with any suggestions, questions, or corrections.

Maps

The overall State Index scores are accompanied by individual state profiles and metric-specific maps. Our maps also provide links to resources for legal help and state-specific Know Your Rights materials through HYLN.

Live Tracking

Our team works hard to maintain real-time updates and ensure that our maps contain the most current information available for the topics covered.

Resources

Our resources range from how young people can access legal assistance through the Homeless Youth Legal Network, authentic ways to engage with unhoused youth, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model State Statutes, to real-time tracking of legislation on youth homelessness around the country.

Contact

The authors of the Index want to ensure it is accurate and useful. Please contact us if you spot a mistake, have a suggestion for new metrics, or want to participate as a panelist on any upcoming webinars!

Stay Informed. Stay Involved.

The Index is constantly evolving and we want it to reflect what YOU need to end youth homelessness in your community. Check out our blog posts for our most recent news and insights.

The Systems That Displace Us

My Nana, a Black woman born and bred in Five Points Denver, Colorado, fought to protect her community of people living in the Denver Housing Projects for more than five decades. She was relentless in her drive towards equity and … Continue reading

  • Aleya Jones
  • February 4, 2024

What it Will Take to End Homelessness

Like many people, I grew up believing that owning a home was the ultimate goal – it signaled success and stability and being a part of the “American Dream”. As a young white woman from the suburbs, I absorbed all … Continue reading

  • Katie M Scott
  • January 23, 2024

Welcome to the new State Index

We have compiled research on 100+ metrics across 56 jurisdictions here. We want this research to do at least three things: shape the advocacy landscape by centering the priorities of young people with lived experience, document jurisdictions’ laws and policies … Continue reading

  • Jeremy Penn
  • January 23, 2024