A broad-based coalition of advocates, providers, state agencies, and young adults is launching eight 100-Day Challenges to house and improve services to youth and young adults experiencing homelessness throughout Connecticut. Funded by a wide array of local philanthropies, this is a true statewide effort, the first of its kind in the nation.
On April 30, 2019, the 100-Day Challenges to End Youth Homelessness in Connecticut held a launch event at the Lyceum in Hartford, bringing together local, statewide, and national leaders. Among the speakers were Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz.
“Since 2012, our state has successfully driven down homelessness by 40%,” said Bysiewicz. “Ending homelessness is not just the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do for our families and communities.”
In 2018, the statewide Youth Count found that there were 5,054 unaccompanied youth who were homeless or unstably housed in Connecticut. The state of Connecticut has set the goal of ending homelessness among youth and young adults by the end of 2020 - with the ambitious plans outlined in the state’s Opening Doors for Youth 2.0 Plan. The 100-Day Challenge provides a means to mobilize action to achieve this goal.
“The 100-Day Challenges are an innovative way to jump-start Connecticut’s efforts to end homelessness among youth and young adults,” said Kiley Gosselin, executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, a statewide nonprofit which staffs and manages the Reaching Home Campaign to end homelessness in Connecticut. “The 100-Day Challenges also offer leadership development opportunities for young people with lived experience of homelessness. Each team will have active, supported, and funded participation of young adults as stakeholders in their 100-Day Challenge.”
100-Day Challenges are designed to empower and support communities in pursuit of an ambitious goal. The compressed timeframe of 100 days, high visibility, and support from coaches, peers and stakeholders all work together to inspire teams to collaborate, innovate and experiment to achieve rapid progress and sustainable system change. This methodology was pioneered by Rapid Results Institute (RRI) and has been used by communities and governments around the world to tackle complex social issues. In almost every case, results are achieved at levels that far exceed normal performance levels. For example, in 2017, a 100-Day Challenge team in Hennepin County, Minnesota set a goal to ensure that 150 youth age 16-24 exited homelessness into safe and stable housing, and 75% of them would be employed. 100 days later, 236 youth were in safe and stable housing and 57% were employed.
“Connecticut has an impressive history with 100-Day Challenges tackling Veteran and chronic homelessness. These efforts were a critical tool in our state’s success in ending Veteran homelessness in 2016,” said Connecticut Commissioner of Housing, Seila Mosquera-Bruno. “This is an exciting and timely opportunity to launch 100-Day Challenges for youth and young adults. In 2017, Connecticut’s Balance of State Continuum of Care was awarded $6.5 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP). These funds are now flowing into communities and the 100-Day Challenges will provide regions with the opportunity to experiment with how to use the new resources in innovative and productive ways.”
“This is a great opportunity to move the needle on preventing and ending youth homelessness in Connecticut,” said David Tille, HUD New England Regional Administrator. “HUD has supported 100-Day Challenges across the country, they are a critical tool to engage youth voices in developing strategic ways to house young people and meet their needs.”
The eight regional teams will each establish a 100-Day goal that not only includes housing a significant number of young people, but requires strengthening collaboration across systems. These goals will vary according to the needs of each community and may include housing a sub-population of vulnerable youth, preventing youth from exiting public systems without stable housing, securing employment, and strengthening infrastructure to address the youth homelessness crisis.
“The 100-Day Challenges provide an important way for young people with lived experience of homelessness to co-design services, housing models, and system interventions that are accessible and meet the needs of peers in their communities,” said Angel Cotto of the Youth Action Hub, a youth-led center of research and advocacy at the Institute for Community Research. “Incorporating authentic youth voice is critical for creating solutions that work.”
There has been an outpouring of philanthropic support for the 100-Day Challenges from funders across Connecticut. Led by the Melville Charitable Trust, this collaborative funding effort has included supporting stipends for young adults with lived experience to be full members of local 100-Day Challenge teams. Funders include: American Savings Foundation, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, Connecticut Community Foundation, Dalio Philanthropies, Fairfield Community Foundation, Farmington Bank Community Foundation, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Ion Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank Foundation, Main Street Community Foundation, Manchester Interfaith Social Action Committee, Melville Charitable Trust, Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, United Way of Greater New Haven, United Way Greater Waterbury, United Way Northwest, United Way of West Central Connecticut, and Webster Bank.
“It is critical that all young people in Connecticut have safe, stable places to live and opportunities to reach their full potential,” Aimee Hendrigan, Vice President of Programs at the Melville Charitable Trust said. “We are pleased to support this innovative effort that prioritizes the voices of youth with lived experience of homelessness.”
Updates on the 100-Day Challenges can be found at http://msdev-d8-pschousing.ameexcloud.com/youth-100-day-challenge. Those interested can also follow the Challenge using #EndYouthHomelessness and #Changein100Days on social media. Please be on the lookout for information on the wrap-up event for the 100-Day Challenges, which will occur in mid-August.