HUD awards Snohomish County & Washington Dept. of Commerce $10 million to tackle youth homelessness

They are among 11 organizations nationwide that will use “wide range” of tools to “get young people off the streets and their lives back on track”

The Washington State Department of Commerce and Snohomish County are among 11 organizations nationwide that have won U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project funding to use a wide range of housing interventions including rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, and host homes in preventing and ending youth homelessness.

HUD announced that it is awarding the Washington Department of Commerce $4,629,391 and Snohomish County was awarded $2,387,593 in Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project funds. Other communities awarded funds include Boston, Columbus, Lincoln, Louisville, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Fe, the State of Vermont and three Tribes in northwest Minnesota. The Municipality of Anchorage and the Seattle-King County Continuum of Care were awarded Youth Homeless Prevention Demonstration grants in 2017.

To ensure the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program meets the needs of young people, HUD relied upon the recommendations of young people who experienced homelessness themselves. Many of these same young people participated in reviewing the applications of communities seeking YHDP funds.

Their input helped ensure that the communities selected for funding understand the needs and preferences of the young people they will serve.  HUD also worked closely with its federal partners at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Education (DOE), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to help develop the program and review applications.

“Young people who are victims of abuse, family conflict or aging out of foster care are especially vulnerable to homelessness,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “We are working with our local partners to support innovative approaches to help young people find stable housing, break the cycle of homelessness and lead them on a path to self-sufficiency.”

“The sight of anyone living on the streets is heartbreaking. But the sight of a young person sleeping in a doorway or rustling through a garbage bin is especially sad,” said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Jeff McMorris. “Like last year’s Youth Homeless Prevention Program grantees, this year’s grantees have demonstrated success in helping homeless young people off the streets and getting their lives back on track. Expanding and building on their successes, we hope they will serve as examples of how other communities can do the same.”

Students who do not feel a part of the neighborhood in which they live and feel that what they do there does not make a difference in their lives are at higher risk for crime and substance abuse. - Washington State Department of Health Adolescent Needs Assessment Report, January 2010

“Our highest calling is to protect our most vulnerable residents,” said Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive. “Our local partners and this project will allow us to protect thousands of youth who find themselves in harm’s way. We appreciate the support of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and their commitment to our community. We will continue to pursue innovative and compassionate solutions to these widespread challenges.”

“Washington is full of creative and talented people working to solve this complex issue. Preventing and ending youth homelessness strengthens communities all over the state, and HUD’s investment puts us at the forefront to demonstrate that it is possible,” said Kim Justice, Executive Director of the state’s Office of Homeless Youth at Commerce

Homeless encampments, like this one in downtown Tacoma, are becoming semi-permanent aspects of our urban landscapes.  For too many children, this is home. Photo: Morf Morford

Homeless encampments, like this one in downtown Tacoma, are becoming semi-permanent aspects of our urban landscapes. For too many children, this is home. Photo: Morf Morford

The Washington State Department of Commerce serves as the Continuum of Care organization working with local projects in 34 small- and medium-sized, mostly-rural counties to prevent and end homelessness. In January 2017 its point-in-time count of the homeless identified 314 unaccompanied homeless young people in its jurisdiction. It has one of the strongest commitments to addressing youth homelessness in the nation. Strategic efforts underway include: preventing youth from exiting public systems of care (such as child welfare and juvenile justice) into homelessness, developing a crisis response system for families and youth in conflict, and closing educational equity gaps for homeless students.

Nationally, one study estimates that 1.4 million children of all ages are likely to experience homelessness in a given year. Compared to their peers, homeless children are more likely to have health problems, developmental delays, learning disabilities, emotional difficulties, and mental disorders—all which are factors negatively affecting school performance.  -  Washington State Department of Health Adolescent Needs Assessment Report, January 2010

Snohomish County Human Services Department (HSD) will build on successful innovative practices that have transformed the Everett/Snohomish County Continuum of Care homeless response system, to further transform the homeless youth response under the Youth Homeless Demonstration Program. Its Continuum of Care’s January 2017 point-in-time count identified 117 unaccompanied homeless young people under the age of 24.

HUD selected 11 communities nationwide which will collaborate with a broad array of partners including a youth action board and the local or state public child welfare agency.  These communities now have four months to develop and submit to HUD a coordinated community plan to prevent and end youth homelessness. They will also participate in a program evaluation to inform the federal effort to prevent and end youth homelessness going forward and will serve as leaders in the nation on the work to end homelessness among young people.

YHDP recipients will use funding for rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing, and to fund innovative programs, such as host homes. Recipients can begin requesting funding for specific projects as soon as they are ready.  YHDP will also support youth-focused performance measurement and coordinated entry systems.  Over the next several months, selected communities will work with their youth advisory boards, child welfare agencies, and other community partners to create a comprehensive community plan to end youth homelessness.

   – U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development

Editor’s note: If you want to know more about various aspects of homelessness from economic impact to how it affects schools, taxes or veterans, take a look at this collection of articles from Crosscut –