On September 22, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) issued preliminary guidelines on preventing and ending youth homelessness through a comprehensive and coordinated community response. Youth often experience homelessness differently than adults, so strategies for preventing and ending youth homelessness must be tailored to this population.
USICH describes recent improvements in collecting reliable data on youth homelessness and in building the capacity of communities to deliver effective services. According to HUD’s latest Point-in-Time count of homeless individuals, approximately 45,000 unaccompanied children and youth under age 25 were living on the streets, in shelters, or in transitional housing on a given night in 2014. The majority of these youth were between 18 and 24 years of age.
To effectively respond to the issue of youth homelessness, USICH says policy makers and service providers need to focus on the unique needs of particularly vulnerable populations like trafficked youth or those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, and to understand how age and developmental issues impact the ways youth experience homelessness.
USICH suggests a collaborative response that builds on local, state and federal efforts to support healthy families that:
- Prevents youth from becoming homeless by identifying and working with at-risk families;
- Identifies and engages youth who are at risk or who are experiencing homelessness to connect them with trauma-informed, culturally and age-appropriate interventions;
- Intervenes early when youth become homeless and make efforts toward family reunification when safe and appropriate;
- Develops coordinated entry systems to identify youth-appropriate types of assistance and prioritize resources for the most vulnerable youth;
- Ensures access to safe shelter and emergency services;
- Ensures that assessments respond to the unique needs and circumstances of youth; and
- Creates individualized services and housing options tailored to the needs of each youth, and include measurable outcomes.
Read the USICH guidelines at: http://usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/Ending_Youth_Homelessness_Coordinated_Response.pdf