Today’s post comes from André C. Wade, program and policy analyst at the Alliance.
As many of you may have seen last week, 20/20 recently aired a segment on homeless youth.
This important episode looked into the lives of four teenagers:
- George, who was “thrown away” by his mother,
- Rebecca who “couch surfed,”
- June, a transgender male to female youth who ran away from a home where she didn’t feel safe with her brothers,
- and Dakota, who “doubled up” with a friend before she became emancipated from her biological mother and obtained housing on her own.
Unfortunately, these stories are all too real.
Most children who experience homelessness return home and require family preservation services, but some youth do not return home; instead they seek shelter and are often placed into transitional living programs. Still other youth remain on the street and are continuously at risk of being exploited (research has shown that youth experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of experiencing violence, abuse, and exploitation than their adult counterparts.) A small number of youth, like Dakota, are able to obtain stable housing through the help of federal, state and or local housing subsidy programs.
Youth homelessness is a nationally overlooked phenomenon that affects too many of our country’s young people. And as a result, many communities face a dearth of information and services targeted at young people.
This year, the Alliance is committed to increasing awareness about this critical problem and finding effective, efficient ways to better serve the young people in our nation facing homelessness. You can count on us to look into the federal programs available for youth, including the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs, the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), and the Family Unification Program (FUP). And we’ll look at local programs too, to see if there aren’t innovative new ways to serve homeless youth germinating from the ground up.
But in the meantime, we’re counting on you to be additional sets of eyes and ears. If you know of programs serving homeless youth – in your community or a ways away – please let us know! We’re eager to coordinate and collaborate with the local and national leaders in the field to prevent and end youth homelessness and ensure that all young people have a safe place to call home.