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the full metrics list

This year, we’ve reformed the Index to focus on unhoused youth and young adults (YYA), aligning it with their experiences and policy needs. Shifting from harm reduction to transformative change, some jurisdictions may see lower scores than before. This is a deliberate strategy, not a setback. Lower scores should motivate, not discourage, jurisdictions. They present an opportunity to adopt policies that effectively tackle and prevent youth homelessness, fostering meaningful progress.

Color Overall Score Score Range

Cite: National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United. ", Territory Lines" Accessed: June 22, 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 that move towards (or away from) ending and preventing youth homelessness, and provide accurate and helpful ‘know your rights’ information to young people and those who serve them.

Especially for those who used our previous iteration of the Index: do not panic if your jurisdiction has (or appears to have) gotten worse. Our scores are not grades, and they should not be treated as grades. They are a shorthand for connecting real-world laws and policies with our theory of change. 

But that doesn’t mean a low score isn’t cause for concern. The new Index measures policies that will not merely to reduce youth homelessness, but end (or prevent) it. And the jump from reducing homelessness to ending it is a big one. Ending youth homelessness will require a dramatic shift in housing policy for most jurisdictions. For others, it will also require a reversal of oppressive policies, such as anti-trans legislation, that target a small percentage of young people who are particularly vulnerable to homelessness with brutal violence. 

As such, a low score signals urgent opportunities: there are many policy options that haven’t been tried yet and these policies should be adopted sooner, rather than later. However, there are a few other reasons why scores might be lower than expected:

First, we have not finished researching all of the metrics that we will add to the new Index, nor have we started to research the actual implementation of metrics on the ground. It’s possible that jurisdictions’ scores will change as we move into those next steps.

And second, our current research may be skewed towards policies that address youth homelessness in mostly urban and suburban areas. Our initial focus groups did not adequately account for rural youth homelessness. We need to talk with young people in rural areas (and jurisdictions that are heavily rural overall) about their experiences and will add and adjust metrics as needed.

The new Index is not about success with any one metric. It is about having an ecosystem of effective, positive systems that work together to move young people into safe, stable, and functional housing.