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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.

Unhoused Minors Can Contract for Housing

  • Autonomy
  • Right to housing

The jurisdiction allows unhoused minors to contract for housing

Normally, young people under 18 can’t enter into binding contracts. But some jurisdictions allow a minor to contract for housing and necessities when a minor is living independently. This type of law can help ensure that a youth can meet their basic needs and access housing.

Key Metric Score Type of Policy Description
1.5 Transformative Edge All unhoused minors can contract for housing
1.0 Reform Unhoused minors age 16 and up can contract for housing
0.5 Harm Reduction Some unhoused minors can contract for housing but there are conditions or barriers
0.0 Status Quo No law found

Cite: National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United. "State Index on Youth Homelessness, Unhoused Minors Can Contract for Housing" https://youthstateindex.com/maps/unhoused-minors-can-contract-for-housing/. Accessed: February 24, 2024.

Right to Housing

The Index is centered around the fundamental human right to housing. A right to housing is the guarantee that every youth and young adult can access and maintain safe and habitable housing. The elements of a right to housing are:

  1. Security of tenure;
  2. Availability of services;
  3. Affordability;
  4. Accessibility;
  5. Habitability;
  6. Location;
  7. Cultural adequacy. 

“There should always be somewhere for everybody to go. We all should be able to have the housing we need. It shouldn’t be something that you HOPE to get, it should be a given. Build more shelters, build more housing.”K. Livingston

Autonomy

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: