PD&R Quarterly Update: The Intersectionality of Youth Homelessness - bdsthanhhoavn.com

PD&R Quarterly Update: The Intersectionality of Youth Homelessness

PD&R Quarterly Update: The Intersectionality of Youth Homelessness

Photo of young adults sitting in a circle.On May 12, 2022, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research hosted a panel discussion on youth homelessness, focusing in particular on how the diverse, intersectional identities of young people experiencing homeless call for more targeted approaches to preventing housing instability. Photo credit: istockphoto.com/SDI Productions

On May 12, 2022, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) held its most recent Quarterly Update event focused on the intersectionality of youth homelessness and how youth with different lived experiences of homelessness require more targeted and effective approaches to prevent housing instability and support exits to homelessness. The event featured two keynote speakers — Maddox Guerilla, a senior consultant for youth homelessness in New York City, and Matthew Morton, a research fellow at the University of Chicago who focuses on evidence-based practices that address youth homelessness.

Their research and insight were followed by a presentation by PD&R analyst Veronica Helms Garrison on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey data on housing insecurity for young adults and a panel discussion moderated by Casey Trupin, youth homelessness director at the Raikes Foundation. In addition to Morton and Guerilla, the panelists included Caroline Crouse, senior specialist at HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs; Alison Kear, chief executive officer of Covenant House Alaska; Sahra Nawabi, youth advocate at the Alameda County Youth Advisory Board; and Dash Togi, youth champion fellow at Covenant House Alaska.

Housing Insecurity Among Young Adults

According to Household Pulse Survey data on housing insecurity for single adults between the ages of 18 and 25 renting alone or with children from July 2021 to April 2022, approximately 10 percent of young adults were late on rent and approximately 6 percent were fearful of imminent eviction. An estimated 60 percent of young adults who are college students experience housing insecurity. Nearly 20 percent of African-American youth were fearful of imminent eviction compared with only 2.6 percent of White youth. Among African-American youth who identified as LGBTQ+, 49 percent were fearful of imminent eviction compared with 23.4 percent of African-American youth who did not identify as LGBTQ+.

Morton’s research with the Voices of Youth Count Initiative is filling research gaps in understanding youth homelessness with policy reviews, interviews, and surveys that directly ask youth about their housing instability. Unlike the HUD Point-in-Time counts, which focus on a single night, the initiative’s approach surveys individuals over a full year, which helps capture the different lived experiences of youth homelessness. Through this approach, the outreach team had contact with youth who are couch surfing, which is a form of housing instability that often occurs in the early stages of homelessness.

Morton noted that LGBTQ+ youth are more than twice as likely as non-LGBTQ+ youth to experience homelessness. This rate more than doubles for LGBTQ+ youth who also identify as a person of color. Not only are the rates of homelessness higher among LGBTQ+ youth, but also the conditions surrounding homelessness can be more detrimental. For example, LGBTQ+ youth experience high rates of adversity before and during homelessness and were more likely to exchange sex for basic needs. The underlying causes of these disparities are the oppression and marginalization that these groups experience. In fact, their intersecting identities make them more likely to lack employment, health insurance, and mental well-being, placing them at a higher risk of homelessness.

Incorporating Youth Voices

The panelists observed that addressing homelessness among young people with intersecting identities and backgrounds requires tailored resources, staff training, and programming that incorporates youth voices. HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) prioritizes the participation of youth with lived experience of homelessness. Continuums of Care (CoCs) receiving funding through the program must develop Youth Action Boards that engage in program planning and development. The first round of YHDP funding awarded $33 million to 10 CoCs across the nation. Covenant House Alaska participated in YHDP as the lead agency for the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, which used YHDP funding to create four new programs. In addition to a rapid rehousing program, a permanent supportive housing program, and a permanency navigator team, the organization’s youth-led planning process resulted in the Host Home Project, which caters to LGBTQ+ youth. Kear emphasized that staff training was critical for prioritizing the needs of LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. The Host Homes Project not only pairs youth with host families but also trains case managers, the host families, and community volunteers in how to consider the unique circumstances and challenges that accompany the lived experience of LGBTQ+ youth. Togi also noted that YHDP funds were used to “relentlessly engage” with young people by meeting with 424 individuals to deliver nearly 9,500 total services. These services, which included systems navigation, support services for social-emotional well-being, and transportation, led to 245 successful housing placements.

Guerrilla described his experience serving on the youth task force in New York City as a person with lived experience of youth homelessness. In 2018, he recommended cash as an intervention based on his firsthand experience. Four years later, the city piloted cash transfers for runaway and homeless youth under its Trust Youth Initiative.

In addition to incorporating youth voices, panelists pointed to collaboration among public systems of care that already have direct contact with young adults as key to preventing youth homelessness. According to one study, nearly one-third of youth experiencing homelessness had some involvement with the foster care system and nearly half with juvenile justice system. These systems offer “undertapped opportunities” for preventing exits into homelessness.

To be effective, programs and approaches to youth homelessness should acknowledge that young people are not a monolith and incorporate training that rejects systemic prejudice against young adults because of their age and helps staff recognize that multiple intersecting identities shape youth experiences of homelessness. As more funding for research and program evaluation becomes available at the national and local levels, communities can continue to shift the support system by engaging young people who ask for help regardless of whether they meet current definitions of homelessness.

Not a Monolith

To be effective, programs and approaches to youth homelessness should acknowledge that young people are not a monolith and incorporate training that rejects systemic prejudice against young adults because of their age and helps staff recognize that multiple intersecting identities shape youth experiences of homelessness. As more funding for research and program evaluation becomes available at the national and local levels, communities can continue to shift the support system by engaging young people who ask for help regardless of whether they meet current definitions of homelessness.

 

 

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