Latest CoC awards are a big win for homeless youth

Now that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced the entirety of the 2015 Continuum of Care (CoC) awards (Tiers I and II), I have had a chance to look more closely at how the awards will benefit the tens of thousands of youth and young adults who experience homelessness on any given night in this country.

As our own Steve Berg pointed out recently on our blog, this was the most competitive CoC competition to date, and Congress directed HUD to ensure that lower performing projects were not automatically renewed, which led to some projects in Tier II losing funding. But many more new projects were funded, including a LOT of youth rapid re-housing (RRH) projects.

Overall, HUD estimates that funding for youth homelessness increased by 50% in this award cycle. Indeed, across all housing models, approximately twice as many unaccompanied youth will be served in HUD-funded projects as last year. And as I looked through the list of awards, I was able to calculate around $15 million in funding for youth RRH, and at least $11 million of that is for new1 projects.

That’s a huge win for young people. And with all this new funding and the momentum that’s building around ending youth homelessness, it’s imperative that we make sure that these resources are used most efficiently and effectively to serve youth and young adults. We’ve learned a lot since the HPRP days about how rapid re-housing works to help communities more quickly end homelessness for more families. And though communities are getting better and better at the Core Components of RRH in general, most are only just getting started implementing the model for youth. But never fear; the model can work for young people. We know this because quite a few youth providers have already developed expertise in youth rapid re-housing, and they can help us lead the way.

Last year the Alliance was able to talk to some of these innovative providers as part of our Practice Knowledge Project, and they had great advice for other providers and systems administrators:

  • Rapid re-housing for youth requires purposefully embracing a client-driven, Housing First philosophy.
  • Landlord engagement is crucial to implementing a successful rapid re-housing for youth program.
  • Rapid re-housing can work for youth, but it will need to be a little different from an adult rapid re-housing model.
  • Getting the services right is key for youth success in rapid re-housing.
  • Rapid re-housing for youth requires flexibility—in case management style, in funding, and in outcome measures.

Those are just the starters. Now we want to build on that knowledge and make sure that communities are able to share in it: The Alliance has begun a new Rapid Re-Housing for Youth Learning Community in which providers and systems administrators will be able to share challenges and solutions and learn more from experienced providers and other RRH experts about how we can maximize this important resource for young people. If you’re interested in joining the community, contact me ( or Jen Saunders

1“New” can mean a new project or a newly reallocated project.