Earlier this year, the Urban Institute released a report that examines the experiences of young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth who have engaged in “survival sex” in New York City. Survival sex is a term frequently used to describe the exchange of sexual acts for money or goods that people require to live (e.g. food and shelter)
Of all the findings in this compelling report, “Surviving the Streets of New York,” one in particular should give homeless service providers pause: “Many [youth] … credited the instability and rules associated with emergency housing with driving them back to the street [and sexual exploitation].”
Whether you work with unaccompanied youth, families, or single adults experiencing homelessness, I want you to stop and think about the proposed Homeless Children and Youth Act, S.256 and its implications. Frankly it is one of those pieces of legislation that sound awesome until you pull back the curtain. It is not mom and apple pie. There are implications to this that we need to dissect and consider from a funding, operational, and policy perspective. It is possible to think critically about the bill and still be supportive of ending homelessness amongst youth, as well as ending homelessness for children and their families. And yes, there are implications to communities and service providers that customarily do not work with youth or families. S.256 impacts all people experiencing homelessness, funders, service providers, and Continua of Care.
Here are the highlights of S.256.
In this year’s NOFA Registration Notice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is strongly encouraging Continuums of Care (CoCs) to reallocate funding to interventions that more effectively reduce homelessness.
In 2015 you can reallocate funds from existing eligible renewal projects to create new rapid re-housing projects for homeless individuals and families, including unaccompanied youth, who are coming directly from the streets, emergency shelters or who are fleeing domestic violence. If your CoC decided to reallocate funds to fund rapid re-housing through the NOFA process or if you work for a foundation or a local government that wants to fund rapid re-housing, you will probably need to write a Request for Proposals (RFP) and figure out a way to evaluate applications.
America places a lot of value on a story. A good story can top the New York Times Best Seller List or rake in millions at the box office. A good story can change the world.
At the True Colors Fund, we hear a lot of stories – from young people who have experienced homelessness, from the service providers who work with them, and from supporters across the country who want to make a difference. To the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community, an important form of storytelling is “coming out.” Living authentically in one's affirmed sexual orientation or gender identity often means sharing that story time and time again. And it isn’t always easy.
Coming out as LGBTQ shouldn’t be a shameful thing. But, to many, it is. Experiencing homelessness shouldn’t be a shameful thing. But, to many, it is.
Earlier this year, New Orleans, which once had one of the highest per-capita rates of veteran homelessness in the nation, created serious buzz by becoming the first major city to effectively end veteran homelessness. With Houston following suit earlier this month, and more cities poised to make similar announcements, it is worth taking a look at New Orleans “six months on” to get a sense of what happens after the press conferences and a visit from the First Lady. In other words: what happens after you reach zero?
It is no secret that even after announcing an end to veteran homelessness, the work around re-housing homeless veterans and keeping veterans in housing never really ends. New Orleans is currently working very hard to sustain the progress that was made. The city, in partnership with UNITY, the lead agency for the homeless Continuum of Care, has set up a rapid response system to quickly locate and house homeless veterans, with the goal of housing them within 30 days. The rapid response system has been the cornerstone of maintaining a “functional zero.”