The Coalition's Campaign on Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness
Across the United States, there are an estimated 1.6 million unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness. 2011 data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), released in August 2012, estimated that there were 5,853 students in Massachusetts public high who were experiencing homelessness and not in the custody of their parent or legal guardian. (To see more data from ESE, click here.) Additional efforts are underway to get a more accurate count of the full extent of unaccompanied youth homelessness in the Commonwealth.
Since 2010, the Coalition has convened a Task Force on Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness to bring together providers, advocates, and youth to work together to improve and expand housing and services for unaccompanied youth. Click here for a timeline of the unaccompanied youth homelessness campaign. To see a list of the participating and endorsing organizations, click here.
Throughout 2012-2013, the Coalition has been meeting with more and more young people, who have shared their stories, personal experiences, and advice with us, members of the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, and legislators. Please click here to read more about some of the barriers these youth face, the strength they exhibit, and their recommendations for the future: "Their Stories, Our Responsibility: Accounts from Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness". Special thanks to the report's author, Samantha Alves, MSW, the Coalition's legislative intern for the 2012-2013 academic year and current Public Policy Advocate.
An Act Providing Housing and Support Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth:
For the 2013-2014 legislative cycle, the Coalition and our partners are working with Representative Jim O'Day of West Bolyston, Senator Katherine Clark of Melrose, and other key legislative allies such as Representative Kay Khan of Newton and Senator Harriette Chandler of Worcester, to file and promote "An Act Providing Housing and Support Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth" (House Bill 135). Similar to House Bill 3838 from the 2011-2012 session, this bill calls on the state to fund a continuum of housing and support services for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness. The new bill includes youth and young adults through age 24, and looks to further the work of the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, which was established through the FY'13 budget process.
- Fact sheet (Updated 10-9-13)
- Legislative page for bill, including bill language
- The Coalition's video on unaccompanied youth homelessness and House Bill 3838 (from last session)
Special Commission on Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness:
The FY'13 budget included key language from the bill to establish a special statewide commission on unaccompanied youth. Click here to see the Coalition's press release on passage of budget language to establish the special commission and here to see the text of the budget language, as signed into law. The commission's work began in December 2012.
Here is the Commission's inaugural report, released in June 2013. In addition, here is an overview of the Commission's work through April 2013, as well as are some materials from the Commission's inaugural meeting on December 17, 2012.
Massachusetts Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness Advisory Board Working Group on Youth Homelessness:
In January 2012, the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH) Advisory Board formed a working group on unaccompanied youth homelessness. The working group is chaired by Bridge Over Troubled Waters and the Coalition. In September 2012, the working group's subcommittees made recommendations to the ICHH regarding how to define unaccompanied youth homelessness, as well as preliminary recommendations on how to count unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness.
FY'14 Budget Campaign:
We are advocating for language in the FY'14 budget to begin to address the needs of unaccompanied youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness by funding housing and services and by conducting a count to better understand the scope of the need. We are asking for $500,000 within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services administrative line item (EOHHS – Line Item 4000-0300). Please see our campaign fact sheet for more details.
Youth on the Hill/Legislative Action Day:
Check our our flyer for our Youth on the Hill Day which was held at the State House on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 as part of our annual Legislative Action Day. Here is an updated advocacy calendar with ways to get involved leading up to the event, and our 2012-2013 action tool kit. We are grateful for the strong showing of youth and youth supporters at the Massachusetts State House to advocate for housing and services for unaccompanied youth, as well as for the Coalition's other priorities!
If you are a young adult, click here to access the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance's 2012 Young Adult Resource Guide. (Some resources listed also may be helpful to you if you are under 18 and out on your own.) For youth-focused legal resources related to immigration, LGBTQ, housing, domestic violence and CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) issues, please go to www.littlenomads.org.
Related Blog Posts:
Recent and Upcoming Events Focused on Youth Homelessness:
October 10, 2013: Legislative briefing at the State House in honor of World Homeless Day, sponsored by the Coalition and State Representative Jim O'Day. An invitation to share with your legislators is coming soon.
May 9, 2013: The Face of Youth Homelessness in South Berkshire County, organized by Crissey Farm, Railroad Street Youth Project, CHP-South Berkshire Community Coalition, and Construct, Inc.
April 10, 2013: Visions of Change Youth Summit, organized by the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance
April 9, 2013: The State of Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness in the Commonwealth legislative briefing
April 3, 2013: "Raising Our Voice for Youth" State House call-in day
February 27, 2013: Legislative Action Day & Youth on the Hill Day
February 25 - March 1, 2013: "Our Stories, Our Art: At the Intersection of Homelessness and Creativity" gallery exhibit