Stakeholders and Researchers Recommend Federal Actions to End Youth Homelessness

Youth homelessness is a significant national challenge. We need better policies informed by evidence along with the voices of young people with lived experience. To this end, Chapin Hall organized a participatory process to produce a set of federal recommendations based on findings from Voices of Youth Count (VoYC), the most comprehensive research initiative to-date on youth homelessness in the U.S. This process culminated in Federal Actions toward Preventing & Ending Youth Homelessness: Recommendations Based on Research and a National Convening of Experts and Stakeholders.

What We Did

In October 2018, leaders from across the country joined a convening held by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and Chapin Hall. Together, they identified federal policy implications of VoYC research findings. Participants included federal staff from multiple agencies, research experts, national organizations, advocates, youth and young adult leaders, and funders. This convening represented a key step in a multistage process to identify recommendations for federal action based on the vast body of VoYC research. We used the ideas generated from this process, along with Chapin Hall’s policy analysis and consultations over the last several years of implementing VoYC, to prepare this policy paper as an evidence-informed roadmap to help guide federal action on youth homelessness.

What We Found

The paper outlines 63 recommendations for federal actions needed by a range of federal agencies and Congress. Taken together, the paper’s recommendations urge a comprehensive approach to ending youth homelessness influenced by the field of public health. Too often, we view youth homelessness as an individual problem, one in which youth and families are at fault. A public health approach places significant emphasis on prevention and elevates the importance of broad ownership of the challenge in society and across multiple systems.

At the same time, federal agencies can’t end youth homelessness alone. This document can also help non-governmental partners identify opportunities to engage, support, and partner with the federal government to propel the critical recommendations for action that have been identified.

What It Means

VoYC findings reveal youth homelessness as a broad and hidden challenge as well as a complex problem with deep roots in family adversities and structural inequalities. Yet, youth homelessness is a solvable problem. And it must be solved. As long as millions of youth do not live up to their potential as individuals due to homelessness, housing instability, and related adversities, we don’t live up to our potential as a nation. We can do better, together.

Federal actions to prevent and end youth homelessness