In 2020, the foundation partnered with True Colors United to survey youth and young adults who have experienced homelessness as well as those that provide direct services to youth about prevention and diversion services to better understand their perspective on effective solutions in addressing youth and young adult homelessness. The final report, Perceptions: Exploring Youth Homelessness Prevention and Diversion in the United States, released this month, highlighted several key findings including:
- There is no consistent definition of homelessness, homelessness prevention or diversion across young people or service providers, making it difficult to adequately assess the effectiveness of any given program or intervention. Clear and agreed upon definitions of youth homelessness prevention and diversion strategies are necessary for the effective coordination of a national effort to prevent youth homelessness.
- Youth and young adults perceive that the current system is designed only for crisis; the only way to get housing or receive services in most places is to literally be homeless first. Including young adults in the development of solutions is critical to redesigning the system to enable prevention and crisis support.
- The system is not designed for the real needs of youth and young adults; while the majority of youth report that economic causes are a core reason for homelessness, only half of agencies offer rental assistance and only a quarter offer cash assistance. The field needs to better understand how cash assistance can impact the lives of youth who are experiencing unstable housing.
Read the full report here.