Youth Initiative

Philadelphia was the first City to utilize the Rapid Results Institute’s 100 Day model to create a team focused on youth homelessness. The Office of Homeless Services held a 100 Day Street Homeless Challenge in June, 2016, before the 100 Day/A Way Home America cities began their work.

Following a Philadelphia City Council hearing and powerful testimony by young people with lived experience of homelessness and youth service providers and advocates, City Council made a funding commitment of $500,000 to increase housing and services for young adults in spring, 2016. The Office of Homeless Services contributed an additional $200,000.

  • 100 Day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness
    Philly Homes 4 Youth Coalition (a continuation of the 100 Day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness)The Philly Homes 4 Youth coalition is a group of dedicated individuals from over 30 public and private youth-serving organizations, as well as young people with experience with homelessness, who have come together with the goal of ending youth homelessness in Philadelphia. The Philly Homes 4 Youth coalition evolved out of the 100 Day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness, which was spearheaded by the Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services (OHS).Philadelphia was the first City to utilize the Rapid Results Institute’s 100 Day model to create a team focused on youth homelessness. This initiative was an unprecedented effort to bring together Philadelphia’s public and private youth-serving entities, with the goal of improving the systems of care for youth at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness.The Philly Homes 4 Youth coalition has identified 4 key priority areas for their work:

    • Prevention: Prevent youth from experiencing homelessness through improved policy and practice, and enhanced resource allocation, with a focus on youth exiting systems (schools, child welfare, justice)
    • Coordinated Entry and Assessment: Create a coordinated youth and young adult system in which the system is able to identify, screen and refer youth in need, and youth experiencing housing instability know where and how to access services
    • Continuum of Housing Services: Create a robust continuum of youth-centric solutions for young people experiencing housing instability, including emergency and long-term housing options
    • Supportive Services: Provide a comprehensive range of supportive services to support independent living skills development and long-term housing stability for youth experiencing housing instability

Download the Youth and Young Adult Housing Resources in Philadelphia: A Guide for Providers (October 2017)

  • Young Adult Leadership Committee
    The Young Adult Leadership Committee was created out of the Continuum of Care Board.  The Committee is comprised of young adults who have experienced homelessness. It advises the Board and Homeless Services on planning and initiatives focused on preventing and ending youth homelessness.
  •  Housing for Youth Collaborative
    City Council held hearings in spring 2016 on youth homelessness and partnered with OHS to provide an additional $700,000 to address this crisis. Through a competitive process, Homeless Services selected a coalition of five youth-serving organizations as the collaborative applicant. The collaborative consists of five agencies:

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)

ASPE has released three briefs  pulling together information on youth that experience prolonged periods of homelessness. Their key findings are:

1. Factors Associated with Prolonged Youth Homelessness.

We found that youth who experience prolonged homelessness also face greater challenges than many of their peers; greater involvement with the child welfare and criminal justice systems; histories of child maltreatment; higher rates of substance use and mental health challenges; higher rates of dropping out of school; higher rates of unemployment and informal work; and unstable housing and living situations. Significant additional research is needed on this population, including whether the factors identified help cause, or result from, prolonged homelessness among youth.

2. Serious Mental Illness and Prolonged Youth Homelessness.

Generally we found that not much is known about the relationship between serious mental illness and prolonged youth homelessness. However, this brief concludes that:

  • Mental health disorders among youth can increase the risk for homelessness;
    • The more time youth spend on the streets, the greater their likelihood of mental health disorders;
    • Early interventions for youth with mental health issues may help prevent and address prolonged homelessness among young people;
    • Significant additional research is needed on this topic, including the extent to which serious mental illness may help lead to prolonged experiences of homelessness among youth, or vice versa.

3. Interventions for Addressing Prolonged Youth Homelessness
Found that supportive housing for youth, social enterprise interventions, functional family therapy, and early interventions for mental health such as Coordinated Specialty Care programs hold promise for youth experiencing prolonged homelessness.

♦  The Attic Youth Center

♦  Covenant House PA

♦  Pathways PA

♦  Valley Youth House

♦  Youth Service, Inc.

The Collaborative began services in fall 2016 and will provide:

25 new crisis beds, adding capacity to serve 150 youth; 25 rapid re-housing beds with a minimum of 6 months rental assistance; 2 slots of 24-hour crisis day care for participants; 75 homeless youth will participate in job training and employment support

April 21, 2017

The Legal Intelligencer posted an article on Recommendations to End Youth Homelessness.

“In the last few years Philadelphia has seen an increase in the numbers of homeless youth. We aren’t alone—this increase is happening in cities nationwide. According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) report, 5,764 children and youth were counted as homeless in Philadelphia during the 2014-2015 school year.”

Read the article:

April 19, 2017

The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania joined forces with Covenant House, an agency dedicated to helping homeless youth, and Loyola University’s Modern Slavery Research Project to conduct a first-of-its-kind study on the prevalence of human trafficking among homeless youth. The Field Center will unveil its complete research findings during a 90-minute presentation at the “One Child, Many Hands” national child-welfare conference June 8 at 1:45 p.m. at Penn Law, 3501 Sansom St.

Press coverage:

One-fifth of homeless youth in Philly have been trafficked for sex, new study finds