The Movement to End Youth Homelessness

“We need a collective effort to get service providers to understand our daily struggles. The system builds walls around us that make it more challenging to reach those in power; they want to develop programs for us but will get nowhere if they don’t ask us what we need. We are the experts on what we need, and no book can teach that. We must sit at the table and help you pioneer what the end of homelessness will look like.”

Theo O.

What Young People Have Taught Us

We will never end and prevent youth homelessness as individual organizations, following individual work plans from individual funders, accountable to people who aren’t directly impacted by homelessness, and constrained by rules that prevent us from directly lobbying for legislative change. That’s the non-profit industrial complex in action. As people who work for non-profit organizations that benefit from this system, we know the challenge of trying to do the necessary transformational work from within our current structures.

What we also know is that if we want to prevent and end youth homelessness, we need to work collectively to: 1. Develop and align our theories of change, 2. Agree on and implement a coordinated strategy that centers and is accountable to those directly impacted by youth homelessness, and 3. Work to dismantle, reimagine, and replace the structures that contribute to homelessness, including charity-based models of care.

“I think the biggest issue is that homelessness as a whole is not seen as a human issue. It’s a political issue. I personally will always need help, both from the government, and from others. I can’t shower on my own, how would I do regular work and maintain a house alone?”

Kamiron K.

To that end, we have begun the work of compiling the stated demands, advocacy priorities, and expertise of national organizations in the youth homelessness space:

National Homelessness Law Center envisions a society where every person can live with dignity and enjoy their basic human rights, including the right to affordable, quality, and safe housing. To that end, they fearlessly advance federal, state, and local policies to prevent and end homelessness while fiercely defending the rights of all unhoused persons.

Federal/State Policy Priorities
  • Enforceable right to housing
  • Decriminalization of homelessness

True Colors United implements innovative solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ young people.

Federal/State Priorities

Maintaining funding for:

  • Runaway and Homeless Youth
  • Education for Homeless Children and Youth
  • Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project
  • Homelessness Assistance Program.
State Priority
  • State IDs
  • Decriminalization

A Way Home America transforms public policy solutions to prevent and end homelessness for Black, Indigenous, youth of color and LGBTQIA+ youth on a path to housing justice for all. They are a leader in the youth homelessness movement, uniting with national partners to ensure our systems work for all youth.

Federal Policy Recommendations
  • A nationally funded low/no-barrier cash transfer program
  • Long-term & emergency housing vouchers for youth/young adults
  • Investment in BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities
  • Actualize reparations for Black & Indigenous Americans
  • Abolish laws & policies that criminalize and end institutionalization & incarceration in addressing homelessness
  • End the use of police & all forms of punishment, retribution, & control in homeless services, education, & child welfare setting

Housing Justice Collective is a collaborative of experienced organizers, facilitators, technical assistants and national housing policy consultants who work with communities to transform systems towards housing justice.

Services Provided
  • Strategy Design & Organizing
  • Process Facilitation
  • Technical Expertise

National Network for Youth is dedicated to preventing and eradicating youth homelessness in America. They work in communities with youth who have experienced homelessness, service providers, and systems to help accelerate the community’s progress in ending homelessness and human trafficking among young people. They envision a future in which all young people have a safe place to call home with endless opportunities to achieve their fullest potential.

Federal Policy Priorities
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA)
  • FY24 Appropriation Requests
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit – Student Rule Fix
  • Homeless Children and Youth Act
  • Higher Education and Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act
State Priority
  • Local Cross-System Collaboratives (LCSC)

Point Source Youth envisions a world where all young people can enjoy the right to safety, stability, and joy. They believe that youth should be trusted to direct their own lives and that leadership by and advancement of the young people most impacted by the crisis of homelessness is paramount. They further believe that our society has a moral obligation to collectively amass ample resources to end youth homelessness. To that end, they work alongside communities and partners to uplift the power of historically marginalized young people to advance meaningful and affirming solutions to end youth homelessness and place resources directly in their hands.

Federal/State Priorities
  • Direct Cash Transfer
  • Host Homes 
  • Rapid Rehousing

SchoolHouse Connection is a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. They provide strategic advocacy and practical assistance in partnership with early childhood programs, schools, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth.

Federal Policy Priorities
  • Fiscal Year 2024 Funding for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program ($800 million in the FY24 budget)
  • Remove Barriers to Higher Education for Homeless and Foster Youth ( the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act, the Housing for Homeless Students Act, the Fostering Success in Higher …
State Priority
  • Laws allowing unaccompanied homeless minors to consent for housing and shelter services
  • Laws empowering unaccompanied minors to consent for routine medical care
  • Laws that mitigate the effects of mobility to help students experiencing homelessness graduate from high school
  • Laws supporting …

Youth Collaboratory harnesses the power of the youth services community to innovate, evaluate, and drive effective strategies that assure the safety and well-being of youth and young adults, unlocking their limitless potential.

Federal/State Priorities
  • Increase funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.
  • Increase funding for the Youth Mentoring Program.
  • Supporting a program that ensures all communities have the opportunity to implement the best practices and lessons learned through the previously funded Youth Homelessness Demonstration

“In order to heal, the wound or pain has to be in the past. We aren’t there. We are still inflicting pain. We can create healing spaces and do individual and personal healing, but as far as for all of youth homelessness, we aren’t there. There is a misalignment between political promises surrounding houselessness and actions being taken against people experiencing housing instability. Healing starts with the acknowledgement of harm.”

Focus Group Participant

Research Organizations Supporting the Movement

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonpartisan research and policy institute that advances federal and state policies to help build a nation where everyone — regardless of income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, ZIP code, immigration status, or disability status — has the resources they need to thrive and share in the nation’s prosperity. We are particularly interested in their work on tax policy.

Chapin Hall is dedicated to the idea that evidence should drive decisions. They combine rigorous research methods and policy expertise to generate evidence and support its use. They work in three primary impact areas: child welfare systems; community capacity, including schools, courts and before- and after-school programs; and youth homelessness.

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit research organization that provides data and evidence to help advance upward mobility and equity. We are a trusted source for changemakers who seek to strengthen decision-making, create inclusive economic growth, and improve the well-being of families and communities. We are particularly interested in their work on decommodification of housing.

“I work with the city's homeless coalition – we’re supposed to come together to talk about food and housing. But one member was anti-trans and now the work is distracted from the real issues to discuss if this person is allowed to treat homeless trans kids poorly. Society is built around acting on immediate dangers so we don’t have time to focus on bigger systemic pictures. It’s built so we can never stand next to each other and rise up against those to blame for our strife. Survival prevents us from elevating ourselves.”

E. Jasper McEwan

Stay Informed. Stay Involved.

The Index is constantly evolving and we want it to reflect what YOU need to end youth homelessness in your community. Check out our blog posts for our most recent news and insights.

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