This post is the seventh in a series examining the Department of Housing and Urban Development's recently released Notice of Funding Availability for the Fiscal Year 2015 Continuum of Care Competition. You can find the full series here: FY 2015 CoC NOFA.
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.
That said, you still have a lot of new information on youth-focused programs and strategies to pay attention to as you work on your CoC applications.
In this NOFA, HUD emphasizes the unique needs of homeless youth and directs CoCs to encourage the full participation of organizations that serve youth. HUD also wants CoCs to consider the specific challenges homeless youth face in achieving stability when evaluating those programs.
- Indeed, up to seven points are available for CoCs that have an inclusive structure and participation process, especially CoCs with a process that includes domestic violence and homeless youth providers.
- And CoCs can get up to two additional points for coordinating with organizations funded by other sources like the Runaway and Homeless Youth programs.
In a break with previous NOFAs, the new NOFA explicitly allows for CoCs to reallocate funding or use bonus funding to create new permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing projects for all populations, including youth. (And rapid re-housing can totally work for youth. You can learn about one of many great programs that are doing it in this recording of a recent Alliance webinar.)
And the NOFA addresses the role of transitional housing for youth, too:
- In Tier II, youth transitional housing is prioritized over transitional housing for other populations and can receive up to 10 points.
- And transitional housing programs that demonstrate adherence to a Housing First approach (i.e. programs that are low-barrier with no preconditions or service requirements, etc.) can get an additional 10 points.
(Additionally, HUD is advising CoCs, when reallocating funds from lower performing youth programs, to reallocate to higher-performing youth programs.)
With this NOFA, HUD acknowledges that unaccompanied homeless youth are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation by including a clarification that human trafficking is one of the “other dangerous or life threatening conditions that relate to violence” that may make young people eligible for homelessness assistance. 
And finally, this year’s NOFA includes a whopping 15 points exclusively dedicated to achieving the Opening Doors goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020.
- CoCs can get up to five points for demonstrating strategies that address the unique needs of unaccompanied homeless youth and their trafficking and exploitation.
- Up to five points are available to CoCs that demonstrate an increase in the number of youth being served who came directly from the streets or other places not meant for human habitation.
- For CoCs that have a proposed plan to increase funding for unaccompanied youth homeless programs, there are up to three points.
- CoCs that collaborate with local education authorities and school districts to identify homeless people and inform them of their McKinney-Vento educational rights can gain up to one point.
- And finally, CoCs can score up to one point for demonstrating collaboration with local school liaisons and state education coordinators and showing the extent to which they (and youth service and education representatives) participate in each other’s meetings.
So, if you want your CoC’s application to be as competitive as it can possibly be, you definitely need to be ramping up your youth game! If you have any questions or simply want to share about your CoC’s progress, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Learn more about the definition of homelessness that Congress created for HUD and how it applies to homeless youth from this recent clarification by HUD: https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/Determining-Homeless-Status-of-Youth.pdf