Published On: July 3, 20242.6 min read515 words

Three recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decisions will make life harder for youth experiencing homelessness.

The Johnson v. Grants Pass decision, released June 28, 2024, ruled that people experiencing homelessness can be arrested or fined for sleeping outside, even when there is no adequate shelter available. NN4Y is extremely disappointed with the outcome of this case. To learn more, read our full statement.

Two additional decisions do not explicitly reference homelessness, but can have an impact on how federal agencies use regulations to provide services and supports to youth experiencing homelessness. Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Corner Post, Inc. v. Board Of Governors of the Federal Reserve System have both greatly weakened the ability of federal agencies to implement and enforce rules and regulations. Specifically, we are concerned about the five federal programs that directly impact youth homelessness programs and funding:

  • The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (HHS) program provides base funding to communities across the country to develop community-based housing and service responses to youth and young adult homelessness.
  • The McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth (ED) program removes barriers to school enrollment, attendance, and success caused by homelessness.
  • Youth Homeless Demonstration Program (HUD) is a competitive 2 year-grant program through HUD that provides funding for local Continuum of Care (CoC) to reduce the number of youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Emergency Solutions Grants (HUD) may be used for street outreach, emergency shelter, homelessness prevention, rapid re-housing assistance, and a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).
  • Youth Homelessness System Improvement grants (HUD) create a more seamless and coordinated system of care for youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Immediate Concerns for Agency Rulemaking

The broader implication of the Corner Post ruling, in conjunction with the Loper Bright ruling, is the significant diminishing of Executive branch authority over its own functions, placing more power over policymaking and implementation in favor of the Judicial branch’s lower court rulings. Current rulings mean that:

  • An agency may have to wait for the House and Senate to go through the long lawmaking process to make minor changes or clarify updates to its program’s implementation process.
  • An agency may have less willpower to implement important protections and procedures that could be challenged. This may include culturally responsive care, LGBTQ+ protections, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which are much easier to pass as agency rules instead of laws.

Moving Forward

There are currently 4.2 million youth and young adults experiencing homelessness who will be impacted by these Supreme Court decisions. This is a setback, but it is not the end.

NN4Y will continue to:
  • Work with lawmakers to ensure that legislation includes specific protections for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, whenever possible.
  • Work with federal agencies to ensure that agency rules are grounded in statutes and are likely to be determined as the “best,” and not just “permissible,” interpretation of those statutes.
  • If necessary, provide amicus briefs or other materials and testimonies to the courts.

Our commitment remains unwavering: to transform systems until every young person in America has a safe place to call home.