Maximizing Impact of Direct Cash Transfers to Young People

Navigating interactions with tax obligations, public benefits, and other financial assistance

Many jurisdictions are considering unconditional direct cash transfers (DCTs) to youth and young adults to bolster housing stability, transitions to adulthood, well-being, and racial justice. These efforts are increasingly supported by federal, state, and local public funding initiatives as well as private funds. Federal and state public benefits and educational grants are an integral part of any jurisdiction’s approach to working with youth at risk of homelessness and experiencing homelessness. 

DCTs offer a promising source of support and a safety net. The benefit of participating in a DCT program, though, is diminished if the payments increase tax obligations or reduce eligibility for public benefits or other financial assistance (for example, if young people have too much income and are no longer eligible for this assistance).  


With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Chapin Hall collaborated with national policy experts, practitioners, and young adults with lived experience of homelessness to create a policy toolkit where tax, public benefits, and educational aid implications for young people participating in DCT programs are laid out in one place.  

The toolkit includes well-researched, vetted, and user-friendly resources developed and reviewed by subject matter experts. Collaborators also identified strategies to mitigate adverse effects on young people, in order to maximize the positive effects of the DCT on young people’s well-being and investments in their personal goals. This toolkit is one of the most comprehensive dives into the complexities of cash transfer implications for youth and young adults available to policymakers, practitioners, and program funders today.  

Full toolkit

Toolkit by Section

Introduction DCTs and Tax Policy DCTs and Medicaid DCTs and Food Assistance DCTs and Financial Aid DCTs and Federal Rental Assistance Conclusion

While this project focuses on DCT initiatives supporting young people, the lessons could offer valuable insights for DCT and emerging “basic income” or “guaranteed income” projects for families and other populations across the country. 

This toolkit was informed by collaborative community engagement with youth experts, local jurisdictions, nonprofits, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers through an interactive webinar series. The series took place from January to March 2022 and featured subject matter experts presenting information and recommendations on their respective topics. Webinar attendees were encouraged to offer feedback and considerations to inform the final policy papers and produce a stronger toolkit. 

Chapin Hall brings a strong project team to this work, including Sarah Berger Gonzalez, Matt Morton, Alesha Alexcee, and Anne Farrell.