Friends of Youth CEO Terry Pottmeyer (left) leads a small group discussion about youth and young adult homelessness following a panel presentation.
Officials and service providers gave an overview of how the homeless response system is progressing at a breakfast session presented by the Eastside Human Services Forum on June 6. In response to new Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policies and more research about solutions to homelessness, local responses and programs are changing and focusing on what is proven to work.
The homelessness continuum of care established by HUD in 1987 is being updated in light of new research about the most effective ways to end homelessness.
The new system emphasizes rapid access to permanent supportive housing, improving stability at a decreased cost. Research has found that smaller units scattered and integrated in communities also are effective in quickly addressing homelessness.
The new goal of the HUD Hearth Act is for no one to be homeless for more than 30 days. In granting funding for housing programs, Housing and Urban Development officials will look beyond just the effectiveness of specific projects, evaluating how a community’s entire homeless response system functions. Gathering and analyzing data about what works to prevent and address homelessness is a key part of the national strategy. Programs will be judged for how they reduce new homeless episodes, returns to homelessness and duration of homeless episodes. Systems need to be nimble to meet changing needs in the community, such as the impacts of an economic recession.
For youth and young adults, homeless response efforts target prevention of homelessness through policies such as extended foster care, emergency responses such as Safe Place, and providing life skills, education and employment support as key for independent living. Friends of Youth believes that transitional housing, which teaches young adults how to be independent and self-sufficient, remains the most effective and developmentally appropriate housing solution for young adults.
One of the important needs that surfaced during the discussion among Eastside officials and service providers was for awareness and training about how to respond to homeless youth, adults and families asking for help. The Eastside has many resources to share, but still lacks enough capacity to serve all the needs. It will take more collaboration among human services agencies, schools, government, businesses and the faith community to reach the goal of a home for everyone.
Learn more about what action steps you can take at www.eastsideforum.org.