Applications for the FY 2017 Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program Are Now Open: Here’s How to Apply

We’re so excited that U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released the much-anticipated Notice of Funding Announcement (NOFA) for the FY 2017 Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP)!

The purpose of the YHDP is to promote “comprehensive systems of care” to address youth homelessness, rather than relying on “individual or unconnected projects.” That means moving from “isolated impact” to “collective impact,” which is how so many states and localities have made a lot of progress on ending veteran homelessness.

The YHDP will select up to 11 communities, including at least five rural communities, to support in developing and implementing a coordinated community plan to prevent and end youth homelessness. The work these communities do will be evaluated, and the lessons they learn will be shared with other communities to improve homeless youth policy and practice.

How can YOUR community become a YHDP site?

1. Who can apply?

First, your CoC’s Collaborative Applicant must apply; however, the “community” applying can be a smaller geographic area within the CoC. For example, in a big Balance of State CoC, the community applying could be just one town, a few towns, or a region within the Balance of State. Collaborative Applicants can apply for more than one community within their geographical area, but HUD will only select one community per CoC.

2. What are the application and community plan requirements?

To be eligible for selection, CoCs must either have or create a Youth Action Board (YAB) that is actively involved in the creation and implementation of the community’s coordinated plan to prevent and end youth homelessness. One of the few changes in the NOFA for this second round of YHDP is that the “Youth Advisory Boards” of the last NOFA are now being called “Youth Action Boards.” This is meant to emphasize the “active and integral role” of young people (including the National Youth Forum on Homelessness [NYFH]!) in making YHDP happen. (Want to really ramp up your partnerships with youth? Check out the Youth Collaboration Toolkit from NYFH and True Colors Fund!)

Additionally, the CoC must demonstrate that the local or state child welfare agency will be a committed partner in the YHDP.

After being selected as a YHDP site, a community’s coordinated plan must include the following:

  • Statement of need about homeless and at-risk youth in the community
  • List of community partners and how they will be involved in the YHDP
  • Shared vision and list of goals and action steps—and which of the partners are responsible for each
  • List of the new projects (funded by HUD and other sources) needed for implementing the plan
  • Governance structure
  • Plan for continuous quality improvement (CQI)
  • Signature page documenting official representation from at least these YHDP partners:
    • CoC
    • Child welfare
    • Local government agency
    • Youth advisory board

3. What HUD principles are mandatory?

Community plans must also incorporate the following HUD principles:

  • Commitment to the USICH Youth Framework and its Four Core Outcomes
  • Commitment to identifying and addressing the needs of special subpopulations of homeless youth, including LGBTQ youth, unaccompanied homeless minors, system-involved youth (child welfare and juvenile justice), trafficked or exploited youth, and pregnant and parenting youth
  • Adherence to Positive Youth Development (PYD) and Trauma-Informed Care (TIC)
  • Inclusion of family engagement services and strategies
  • Immediate access to housing with no preconditions (i.e., “Housing First”). For purposes of this NOFA, transitional housing can be considered “housing first” if it is low-barrier, has no preconditions for entry, has voluntary services, and works to quickly move clients into permanent housing.
  • Youth choice and self-determination
  • Individualized, client-driven supports
  • Social and community integration
  • Youth-appropriate coordinated entry

4. How will applicants be evaluated?

HUD will evaluate communities applying for YHDP on several factors, with a total of 100 points available. Those factors include:

  • Leadership capacity (20 points)
  • Current resource capacity (5 points)
  • Community need (10 points)
  • Capacity for innovation (15 points)
  • Collaboration (20 points)
  • Financial resources (10 points)
  • Data and evaluation capacity (20 points)

So a community is selected as a YHDP site, what happens next?

Selected communities will have up to four months to develop their coordinated community plans (with lots of HUD technical assistance). They will then have up to an additional four months to receive feedback from HUD and edit their plans accordingly.

This coordinated community plan is the foundation for how individual projects funded through the YHDP will be implemented. Until the plan has been approved by HUD, only 30% of the total project funding may be applied for and used. (After approval, the other 70% of a community’s project funding can be applied for and used.) Each of the selected communities will be eligible to apply for a minimum award of $1 million, with no limit on the number of projects funded by that award. Projects funded through the YHDP will be awarded two-year grants, except for planning grants, which are only for one year.

All projects funded under the YHDP must participate in Homeless Management and Information System (HMIS) — with the usual exceptions for victim service providers — and are subject to certain project quality thresholds themselves. They must also participate in the evaluation of the YHDP. To best understand how their project fits into both the YHDP and their CoC, all project applicants should also familiarize themselves with the entire FY 2017 YHDP NOFA, the CoC Interim Rule, and the most recent CoC NOFA General Section.

What projects can my community develop with YHDP?

Because the YHDP is a demonstration from which we can learn lessons about the most effective ways to prevent and end youth homelessness, there will be a lot of flexibility in allowed projects. All projects that are permitted for CoCs will be allowed as new projects for the YHDP. This includes: rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing (TH) – including crisis residential TH, HMIS, and Supportive Services Only.

And for added flexibility, communities may request waivers of CoC regulations (but not of statutory requirements of the McKinney-Vento Act, and not waivers of any fair housing or civil rights requirements). They may also propose projects that are not renewable for CoC funding or that are not even CoC eligible.

Projects that do not require waivers and are CoC-renewable include:

  • Host homes and kinship care, where the increased costs to the host family are CoC-eligible program costs
  • Shared housing

Some projects that are CoC-renewable but require waivers include:

  • Enhanced rapid re-housing (e.g., letting youth sublease from the program or combining rental assistance and leasing costs or operating costs as long as the funds are not used for the same client in the same unit)
  • Transition-aged youth rental assistance, providing assistance longer than currently allowed for rapid re-housing (2 years)
  • Increased security deposits
  • Security deposits and first and last month’s rent for clients moving out of TH (with evidence why TH occupancy charges cannot be used and evidence that the client savings from a TH stay are insufficient to cover the costs)

Some projects that could be funded under the YHDP but are not renewable under the CoC include:

  • CoC-ineligible costs for host homes or kinship care, such as increased utility bills for the host family

Why is the YHDP important?

With its focus on community coordination, youth empowerment, lowering barriers, and the involvement of mainstream systems, particularly the child welfare system, the YHDP continues the growing momentum to prevent and end youth homelessness in this country. The increased capacity, the innovations developed, and the lessons learned as a result of YHDP will have us well on the way to effectively ending youth homelessness by the Opening Doors goal of 2020.

YHDP applications must be submitted by April 17, 2018. Selected communities will probably be announced several months after that! To learn a whole lot more, sign up for the USICH webinar on this year’s YHDP on February 22.

You can also find tons of relevant resources for improving your community’s response to youth homelessness from the Alliance’s Youth & Young Adults page (especially the awesomeness that is the RRH for Youth Learning Community) and the HUD Exchange!