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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.

DCT Programs in Only Certain Localities

  • Income

There are direct cash transfer programs that are only available in certain localities

Direct cash transfers are simple – no strings attached cash payments to young people in need. Many programs have optional supportive services and most programs are designed in consultation with unhoused youth and young adults. However, while the concept is simple, there are many complex considerations in designing these programs to ensure that DCT payments do not create a tax liability or cause young people to lose access to public benefits.

Note: So far Oregon is the only jurisdiction-wide cash transfer program that meets the following criteria:

  • The cash transfer program requires the jurisdiction to apply for all relevant federal waivers to prevent benefit cliffs 
  • The cash transfer program requires the jurisdiction to adjust all eligibility criteria that are in its control in order to prevent benefit cliffs

Note: No jurisdiction meets the following criteria:

  • The cash transfer program includes ways for youth with disabilities to participate without affecting their benefits/healthcare
Key Metric Score Type of Policy Description
0.5 Harm Reduction There are direct cash transfer programs that are only available in certain localities
0.0 Status Quo No law found
No Data No Data No Data

Cite: National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United. ", DCT Programs in Only Certain Localities" Accessed: June 22, 2024.


Until we can finally realize an economic system that isn’t based on exploitation, access to income is a necessary part of survival for young people. Approximately 12% of children ages 14 to 17 and 20% of young adults ages 18 to 24 live in households earning or receiving less than $14,000 per year. With the average rent in United States completely out of reach for anyone below the poverty line, it is not surprising that individuals ages 18 to 25 endure the highest rates of homelessness and housing insecurity than any other age group; 1 in 10 report couch surfing or another form of homelessness at some point each year.

The United States has almost no social safety net for young adults (and a completely inadequate one for families with children or people with disabilities). There is a growing consensus, however, that the solution isn’t to create more bureaucratic programs with complicated eligibility rules but rather to directly transfer cash to the people who would benefit most and trust them to spend it on what they need.

Model Statutes:

These maps are provided as legal information only and should not be used as legal advice for your specific situation. If you need help with any of the issues described on this website, please check out the Homeless Youth Legal Network (HYLN) directory OR email or call HYLN for help finding a referral to a lawyer.