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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.

SNAP for Prepared Meals

  • Autonomy

The jurisdiction does not allow unhoused youth to use SNAP to buy prepared meals

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allows states to opt in to the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP). RMP allows SNAP recipients who cannot prepare their own meals or do not have permanent housing to store and prepare food to use their benefits to purchase prepared meals. All states and territories that have SNAP should opt into this program.

Key Metric Score Type of Policy Description
0.0 Status Quo The jurisdiction has opted into the Restaurant Meals Program
-0.5 Harmful The jurisdiction does not allow unhoused youth to use SNAP to buy prepared meals
No Data No Data No Data

Cite: National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United. ", SNAP for Prepared Meals" Accessed: June 22, 2024.


In many jurisdictions, minors have limited autonomy when it comes to entering into contracts for rental properties, obtaining medical care, and other important decisions that affect their lives. However, there is a growing movement to increase the autonomy of minors in these areas. One important step is to allow minors to enter into rental contracts, which would give them greater control over their living arrangements. Additionally, providing a statutory process for emancipation gives minors who are already supporting themselves the legal right to make their own decisions.

Another area where autonomy is important is minors’ ability to consent to shelter and services, a crucial tool in ensuring that unhoused youth get the help and support they need. 

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

Model Statute:

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.