To address both the causes and consequences of this youth and young adult homelessness, our proposed system includes a full range of developmentally-appropriate services and housing options for youth and their families.

Youth and young adults (YYA) are defined by a complex and critical stage of personal growth. Unfortunately, YYA experiencing homelessness lack safety, stability, and other basic life needs. Moreover, many of these individuals cannot access systems, services, and resources to support healthy development. Our approach empowers YYA to lead fuller, healthier lives. Within this system, youth experiencing homelessness will spend less time worrying about basic needs and more time pursuing education and healthy interpersonal relationships. Collectively, our recommendations provide multiple opportunities for youth to undergo safe and healthy transitions to adulthood.

Because we know that a systems approach to addressing youth and young adult (YYA) homelessness in America is critical, we have developed this Proposed System to End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness. This resource is designed to provide a practical vision for local planning and collaboration and guide federal policymakers.

Our Proposed System supports our marquee publication, What Works to End Youth Homelessness: What We Know Now. This policy brief calls on federal policymakers and agency staff to support creating a comprehensive, collaborative, systems-based approach to addressing youth and young adult homelessness that is youth-centric and flexible.

Proposed System to End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness

What You Need To Know

  • Adopt a shared understanding of youth and young adult (YYA) homelessness so that: data collected by different sources will paint a consistent and accurate picture of the need in our communities and ensure that all young people can access the services and housing they need.
  • Increase investment in YYA-appropriate housing and services so that the gap between need and vital services is closed.

  • Examine and improve the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, so they stop failing to help to exit youth transition with appropriate services and supports, especially stable housing.

  • Strengthen and support the work of federal agencies to facilitate the effective sharing of resources and remove needless bureaucratic barriers that prevent YYA from receiving the help they need.

  • Create mechanisms for flexibility in federal programs so that communities can develop YYA accessible and appropriate housing and services that meet the needs in their community.

  • Adopt a shared vision of core outcomes to measure success across federal programs that are developmentally appropriate.