The State Index on Youth Homelessness was originally developed, co-authored, and published in 2018 by Michael Santos of the National Homelessness Law Center and Justin T. Rush of the True Colors Fund (now True Colors United) to provide a snapshot of some of the legal, systemic, and environmental barriers and complex challenges youth experiencing homelessness face and to support advocates, policymakers, and youth themselves by identifying problems and promising practices toward ending youth homelessness.
During the development of the Index, True Colors United and the Law Center convened and consulted an advisory committee of nearly 30 leading experts from various sectors, including federal and state governments, youth who have experienced homelessness, service providers, philanthropic organizations, national advocates, and other stakeholders working on youth homelessness issues (“Advisory Committee”). True Colors United and the Law Center, in consultation with Advisory Committee members, developed 61 graded metrics that were used to evaluate each state in the following three categories: Laws and Policies, Systems, and Environment.
Subsequent iterations of the State Index followed the same research, analyzation, and publishing approach, ultimately painting a broad picture of where states ranked on their readiness to end and prevent youth homelessness and how they could improve existing laws and systems.
To learn more about our past reports, please visit our resources page.
In 2023, the Law Center and True Colors United took apart and rebuilt the State Index from the ground up to better reflect the current state of the movement to end and prevent youth homelessness and to highlight the transformational change needed to meet the scale and scope of the issue. To read more about the current State Index, visit our purpose and mission and research framework pages.