Sharing Lessons Learned Across Communities
Ten communities across the U.S. are planning to coordinate implementation of efforts to address youth homelessness. Local initiatives are funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP). In early August, Voices of Youth Count was invited by HUD to hold a webinar for these communities to share lessons from the youth counts and in-depth interviews.
Matt Morton and Gina Samuels of VoYC led the webinar. The presentation connected insights from VoYC to the planning and implementation of YHDP projects. Timing, preparation, and diverse stakeholder engagement all emerged as key features of a successful Youth Count through the VoYC work in the summer of 2016. The presentation also highlighted key findings of the in-depth interviews.
Youth Guides from the 2016 youth count in Mariposa County, one of VoYC’s rural sites.
The problem of capturing rural youth homelessness was also discussed. VoYC suggests that different strategies are necessary to reach urban and rural youth in counts. For example, multiday count periods and stronger engagement of schools could help when surveying harder-to-reach populations, like minors and couch surfing youth. In YHDP communities like rural Ohio, a tailored approach could be effective in reaching more homeless and unstably housed youth.
HUD announced the grant recipients of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) in January. The ten participating communities include rural and urban sites, from all of rural Ohio to Anchorage, Alaska. Projects range from coordinating youth-serving systems to implementing evidence-based approaches to providing services.
VoYC supports the work of YHDP communities to understand and end youth homelessness. For these and other communities, the VoYC toolkit can provide a springboard for planning local counts of homeless youth.