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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.

Updating Names Without Parental Consent

  • Anti-oppressive
  • Autonomy
  • LGBTQ+

Minors can update their name without parental consent

Access to a birth certificate, social security card, and state ID is often a first step in being able to fully participate in daily life and meet basic needs. From applying for housing, jobs, health insurance, and public benefits, to enrolling in school, opening a bank account, or even picking up a package or prescription, unhoused young people face huge barriers in finding stability and safety if they don’t have access to an accurate ID. For minors who don’t have a safe relationship with a parent or guardian, lack of consent and financial assistance poses a barrier, especially for trans and non-binary youth, who will face enormous barriers in obtaining an ID that reflects their name and gender identity.

Model Statute:

Key Metric Score Type of Policy Description
1.0 Reform Minor can file their own petition (themselves or via “next friend”) and parental consent is not required for court to grant
0.5 Harm Reduction Minor can't file their own petition but parental consent is not required for court to grant OR there are clear exceptions to parental consent
0.0 Status Quo Parent consent is required or no law found
Minors can update their gender marker without parental consent

Cite: National Homelessness Law Center and True Colors United. "State Index on Youth Homelessness, Updating Names Without Parental Consent" https://youthstateindex.com/maps/updating-names-without-parental-consent/. Accessed: February 24, 2024.

LGBTQ+

LGBTQ+ youth and young adults are one of the most over-represented groups experiencing homelessness, comprising anywhere from 20-40% of all unhoused young people but less than 10% of the general population. Studies by Chapin Hall have found that unhoused LGBTQ+ young people had over twice the rate of early death compared to their peers and experienced higher levels of violence and exploitation while homeless. Laws that sanction discrimination against LGBTQ+ young people and that criminalize, dehumanize and erase non-binary and trans youth only exacerbate this crisis. We currently track harmful and violent laws, as well as laws protecting, celebrating, and honoring LGBTQ+ youth, as they relate to education or to accessing accurate identity documents. Eventually, we will track how well jurisdictions prioritize ending and preventing LGBTQ+ homelessness and whether homelessness services within that jurisdiction are tailored to meet the needs of these youth.

“People who disclose their identity are putting themselves at risk, to live their life as their authentic self. What does this mean for personal safety? Accessing resources can already be a challenge for trans and non-binary young people, and even more challenging to find affirming care and support.”– Diamond Dumas

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:

Anti-Oppression

(racism, ableism, anti-trans/queerness, etc.)

Anti-oppression is an essential component of creating a just and equitable society. It is crucial to acknowledge the systemic oppression faced by marginalized communities, including racism, ableism, anti-trans/queerness, and other forms of oppression. In the context of housing, these oppressions manifest in various ways, such as discriminatory rental practices, inaccessible housing for people with disabilities, and harassment and violence against marginalized communities.

To combat these injustices, it is essential to implement anti-oppressive policies and practices in the housing sector. This includes creating inclusive housing policies that prioritize the needs of marginalized communities, providing accessible housing for people with disabilities, and addressing discrimination and harassment through legal measures. By prioritizing anti-oppression in housing, we can create a more just and equitable society where everyone has access to safe and affordable housing, regardless of their identity or background.