A Way Home America

A National Movement to End Youth Homelessness by 2020

The Challenge

Homelessness is not just an adult problem.

During a single night it’s estimated that up to 50,000 young people may not have a place of their own to sleep. They sleep in parks, abandoned buildings, or stayed with friends and sometime strangers who offer a bed for a night. A large number of these young people have already experienced significant trauma in their lives, trauma that is compounded by the struggles of having to survive without a home and without a parent or guardian to care for them.

There is an increasing understanding of the complexity of youth and young adult homelessness and how it intersects with multiple identities and systems. Youth who experience homelessness are disproportionately youth of color, LGBTQ, living in poverty, undocumented, trafficked, and involved in the foster care and juvenile justice system.

This complexity calls for a cooperative, comprehensive, youth-informed responses that meet the needs of this vulnerable yet resilient population.

Photo: Anuhab Saxena

Photo: Anuhab Saxena

The Solution

AWHA logoEvery young person in America deserves a fair shot of making it.

In 2016, a group of advocates, researchers, young people, local, state and federal government agencies, youth providers, and philanthropists came together to form A Way Home America, a national initiative to build the movement to prevent and end homelessness among youth and young adults. A Way Home America (AWHA) is united behind one goal:

By the end of 2020, prevent and end homelessness among all youth and young adults. Ensure that homelessness among youth and young adults is rare, and if it occurs, experiences of homelessness are brief and one-time.

AWHA members agree that now is the time to leverage national, state, and local momentum around youth and young adult homelessness because there is:

  • Increased alignment and commitment between federal agencies: The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and its federal member agencies are actively engaged and working to meet the federal commitment to achieve the Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness goals to prevent and end YYA homelessness by 2020.
  • Local model development: Local community efforts to prevent and end YYA homelessness are happening across the country, often complementing and building on state efforts.
  • Expanded research: Research is currently underway, such as the Voices of Youth Count study led by Chapin Hall of the University of Chicago.
  • Heightened awareness and visibility: As efforts to end chronic and veteran homelessness have shown growing success, there is increasing national visibility and focus around the next target populations in the Opening Doors Plan—families and youth.
  • Increased advocacy and network engagement: There are significant national advocacy efforts to prevent and end YYA youth homelessness underway, including those led by National Network for Youth, National Alliance to End Homelessness, MANY, and True Colors Fund.
  • Philanthropic commitment: There is a growing focus and commitment from within the philanthropic sector to preventing and ending YYA homelessness.

AWHA is moving quickly to:

  • Create a national movement, awareness and action to prevent and end YYA homelessness.
  • Develop increased alignment among YYA homelessness efforts—public policy, advocacy, research, practice, communications, and public and private funding.
  • Establish common measures of success and similar, aligned approaches to preventing and ending YYA homelessness at the local level.
  • Create measurable progress, as seen by reductions in the number of unsheltered youth, length of stay, and reductions in returns to homelessness.
  • Inform the new Administration during the transition process about the needs for the upcoming four years. Read the plan

The Trust’s Role

The Melville Trust is a founding member and a funder of A Way Home America.

For more information

Please contact Aimee Hendrigan, Vice Presidents of Programs: ahendrigan@melvilletrust.org

Resources & Learnings