Every young person in America should have a safe place to call home and multiple opportunities to succeed. All of us need support on the journey to adulthood, but for youth experiencing homelessness, the climb to adulthood can be particularly steep.
As young people become adults, they need to be plugged into networks of support that power their growth and success, but young people in homeless situations are often unplugged from networks of support. These recommendations were developed by our National Youth Advisory Council, young people who have experienced multiple forms of homelessness throughout the US, and our 300+ community-based youth service provider members and affiliate network. Implementing these recommendations is critical to preventing and ending youth homelessness and vital to preventing their trajectory into chronic adult homelessness.
Please join us in taking action to advocate for these critical funding requests via email. We also strongly encourage you to call and/or schedule an in-person or virtual meeting with all of your elected officials to ask them to support these funding and report language requests. We have resources available online to help you schedule in-person or virtual meetings with all of your elected officials.
RUNAWAY AND HOMELESS YOUTH ACT PROGRAM (HHS)
Youth experiencing homelessness face a particularly steep climb to adulthood. They are not plugged into networks of support needed for healthy development. RHYA programs provide the support and connection youth need to transition to adulthood successfully. These services and support are also more cost-effective than other systems (child welfare, juvenile, and adult court systems) youth experiencing homelessness come into contact with.
RHYA programs have been chronically underfunded, with only 25% of qualified applicants receiving funding.
For FY24, appropriate $300 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program to:
- Support approximately 1,400 RHYA projects in communities across the United States that meet our young people where they are. These youth are not eligible for HUD homeless assistance due to HUD’s narrow definition of homelessness and the hidden nature of homelessness among youth.
- Allow approximately 49,034 young people access housing and connect with 70,000 youth via street outreach and drop-in centers. This is far from meeting the need but would significantly increase our country’s capacity to end youth homelessness by doubling the number of young people served. It would also provide a cost savings of more than $12 billion in fiscal costs and over $30 billion in costs to society.3
- Ensure that our young people are not left out of national efforts to end homelessness. Successfully addressing youth homelessness will save money and dramatically reduce future chronic adult homelessness.
EDUCATION FOR HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH ACT PROGRAM (ED)
In the 2019-2020 school year, public schools identified nearly 1.3 million children and youth experiencing homelessness. Homelessness has a negative impact on attendance, achievement, and graduation that is over and above the impact of poverty. The 2019-2020 national graduation rate for students experiencing was 67.8%, 12% points below other low-income students. The Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program is the only federal education program that removes barriers to school enrollment, attendance, and success caused by homelessness. Without this specific, targeted assistance, homeless children and youth are unlikely to benefit from any investment in education and are at much higher risk of experiencing homelessness as adults. A lack of a high school degree is the single greatest risk factor associated with homelessness as a young adult. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated homelessness and has created significant challenges in identifying and serving these students. Yet only 24% of local educational agencies receive an EHCY subgrant at the program’s current funding level.
For FY24, appropriate $800 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program.
YOUTH HOMELESSNESS DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM (HUD)
HUD has historically focused solutions and priorities on adults experiencing homelessness. The Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) is administered as a competitive two-year-grant program through HUD that provides funding for local CoCs to reduce the number of youth experiencing homelessness, including unaccompanied, pregnant and parenting youth. YHDP projects partner with community stakeholders and require communities to convene Youth Action Boards. NN4Y strongly urges HUD to require every CoC to implement lessons learned by YHDP communities and implement YHDP project outcomes to all CoC youth-funded projects. Until HUD takes these steps, we urge Congress to continue to fund YHDP.
For FY24, appropriate $100 million for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) with no more than $2 million for Technical Assistance.