Research shows that people who have spent time in the foster care system tend to become homeless at an earlier age than homeless people without foster care histories. They’re also overrepresented among the homeless youth population.
It’s well known in the homeless assistance field that the foster care system itself is a feeder into youth homelessness, but this year it’s come to the attention of several senators who have introduced legislation to address the problem.
One a single night of this year, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness in across the country. This is according to the 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) Part 1, which was released today by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This report provides data aggregated from community point-in-time counts conducted in January and includes longitudinal trends in overall homelessness and among specific subpopulations.
So how are we doing in our efforts to end homelessness? Overall homelessness has decreased by 11.4 percent since 2010, when the Administration set ambitious goals to end veteran and chronic homelessness in five years and family and youth homelessness in 10 years. And, we have seen substantial decreases in veteran, chronic, and family homelessness in that same time period:
Think about this: while approximately 5 to 7 percent of the general youth population identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT), 9 to 45 percent of the homeless youth population does. In other words, LGBT youth are significantly more likely to be homeless than non-LGBT youth.
In addition to being over-represented among the homeless youth population, LGBT youth may also be more likely to be involved with the justice system due to arrests related to survival crimes (such as theft or sexual acts). When LGBT youth are in shelters, group homes, or foster homes, they often experience harassment or violence. As a result, they may resort to “survival sex” in order to avoid these living arrangements. (This is a term for sexual acts that are exchanged for money or goods required to meet life’s basic needs.)
We’re still digging through HUD’s latest CoC Program NOFA to determine what CoCs should do to secure the maximum amount of federal funds to assist homeless people.
Today, we’re looking at all the incentives spelled out in the NOFA that encourage communities to develop partnerships. HUD will base about a quarter of the points in a community’s overall “score” on the CoC’s strategic use of resources. And by “resources” HUD doesn’t just mean the CoC funds HUD is awarding; it also means the array of funding resources CoCs can access through these partnerships.
While the new CoC Program NOFA has lots of great parts, like its focus on encouraging programs to adopt a Housing First approach and prioritize serving unsheltered people, the most exciting part for me was all the great new homeless youth content.
Before I get into the details, it should be noted that young people ages 18 to 24 are also counted among the chronic, domestic violence, and family homelessness populations (and maybe even the veterans). So that means that all of the great NOFA insights my Alliance colleagues have been blogging and webcasting about also apply to youth.