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Homelessness , Supportive Housing

3/25 IForum Increases Momentum to End Youth Homelessness

26 March 2015

On Wednesday, March 25th, homelessness providers, advocates, state agency representatives, educators, and funders filled the Lyceum for the second IForum of the 2015 season, Youth Homelessness: Developing Data-Driven Priorities. The morning included insightful and inspirational presentations on the pathway to end youth homelessness. The event coincided with the release of the Opening Doors for Youth plan, which outlines strategies and action steps to end homelessness among youth and young adults in Connecticut.

Jasmine Hayes, Policy Director with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) kicked off the event by providing the national perspective. Hayes spoke about the USICH framework to prevent and end homelessness, which focuses on advancing data and service systems to develop tailored and effective interventions.

Keynote Beth Holger-Ambrose, Executive Director of The Link and former Homeless Youth Services Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Human Services Office of Economic Opportunities, described the Minnesota Homeless Youth Act (HYA). Holger-Ambrose stressed the importance of including youth voices in the development of policy and advocacy. First drafted in 2001 and passed in 2006 funding for the HYA has increased to over $5 million through advocacy and interagency partnerships.. This funding provides critical services such as street outreach, drop in centers, emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, supportive housing, and prevention programs.

Click here to view the slideshow. 

Brian Roccapriore (Director of Homeless Management Information Systems and Strategic Analysis at the CT Coalition to End Homelessness, Louis Tallarita (Education Consultant, CT Department of Education), and Raven Saddler (Youth Count Partner) spoke about recent efforts to improve data on youth experiencing homelessness through Connecticut’s first statewide Youth Count. The Youth Count was conducted in January 2015 and included a statewide survey and a school estimation project. Results will give advocates, providers, and state agencies a better understanding of the prevalence of youth homelessness in the state as well as the unique needs of these youth. Tallarita highlighted the importance of engaging educators and schools in identifying and referring youth experiencing homelessness to appropriate services.

On behalf of the Opening Doors-CT Homeless Youth Workgroup, Stacey Violante Cote (Director of the Teen Legal Advocacy Project at the Center for Children’s Advocacy; Chair of the Reaching Home Homeless Youth Workgroup) and Elizabeth Grim (Policy Analyst, Partnership for Strong Communities) released the Opening Doors for Youth plan. The Opening Doors for Youth plan provides guidance for how to end homelessness in Connecticut for youth and young adults.

This plan was created from a year long, multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at creating a comprehensive integrated network of services for homeless and unstably housed young people ages 14-24 in Connecticut. Opening Doors for Youth outlines the vision of creating a future when all young people in Connecticut have safe, stable places to live and opportunities to reach their full potential. Strategies necessary to achieve this vision include the following:

  • Hire a statewide youth and young adult housing services coordinator
  • Establish funding and transparency mechanisms for all services targeting youth and young adults with housing instability in the state
  • Create better tools to identify, screen and refer youth in need
  • Expand direct services and support along the housing continuum
  • Provide or improve training and technical assistance for providers
  • Improve collection and use of data
  • Advocate for changes in policy

Material from the IForum: