Innovation in communities is what is going to end youth homelessness. Your bold thinking locally allows us to test new approaches and demonstrate what works so that every community can benefit.
As we start 2018, I’m excited that we have a new opportunity to build on the momentum that has been created in communities across the country – HUD recently announced a new Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) to competitively award $43 million for the second round of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP). These funds will provide up to 11 communities, including at least 5 rural communities, with resources to design and implement a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending homelessness. Applications for the YHDP are due before midnight eastern time on April 17, 2018.
Last year, HUD launched YHDP, investing $33 million in communities committed to ending youth homelessness. As part of the demonstration, these 10 communities are receiving funding and intensive technical assistance to build comprehensive systems to prevent and end youth homelessness. Throughout 2017, I had the opportunity to learn about each of the YHDP sites, and I’ve been inspired by the young people who are boldly helping to shape their respective communities. Service providers, government officials, schools, advocates, researchers, philanthropy and others are truly coming together to implement a coordinated community response to prevent and end youth homelessness.
The YHDP has five primary objectives:
- Building national momentum
- Evaluating the coordinated community approach
- Expanding capacity
- Evaluating performance measures
- Establishing a framework for federal program and TA collaboration
As with their counterparts in round one, these 11 communities will commit to developing and implementing a full range of programs and interventions for youth, aligned into a system that is well-coordinated, data-informed, and effectively managed to achieve positive outcomes. That system must be shaped by innovative ideas and approaches, including consideration of how age and developmental issues impact how youth experience homelessness, and their pathways in and out of homelessness.
Communities are encouraged to focus on the unique needs of youth experiencing homelessness who are particularly vulnerable, including but not limited to youth who have been trafficked and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ).
We encourage you to look closely at what your data tells you about who is – or isn’t – being served. That means engaging in difficult but necessary conversations about race and the impact that racial disparities across systems like juvenile justice, child welfare, and behavioral health can have on how young people of color experiencing homelessness access or are blocked from opportunities to education and employment pathways that contribute to their long-term success. This demonstration is also an opportunity for communities to focus on preventing homelessness, including strategies that prioritize enhanced discharge and re-entry practices from the justice system, completion of high school and transitions to post-secondary education and vocational training, and family-centered interventions.
We encourage all communities to apply for the YHDP. The application is designed to help communities reevaluate their relationships with partners, identify additional community resources, and redesign existing governance structures. Applications must be submitted by a community’s Continuum of Care (CoC) Collaborative Applicant, and must be co-developed with a broad array of community partners, including a youth action board, a state or local child welfare agency, youth housing and services providers, local school districts, workforce development organizations, law enforcement, judges, corrections departments, and/or other systems and sectors.
Technical assistance resources, including guidebooks, toolkits, webinars, and other resources are available on the YHDP website to support communities as they develop their applications.
You can also sign up for our webinar on the NOFA on February 22 at 3pm EST.