Facts About the Homeless Children and Youth Act

The Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2017 (H.R. 1511/S. 611) is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that removes barriers to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homelessness assistance for children, youth and families in the following ways.

1. Aligns HUD’s definition of homelessness with those of other federal programs.

    Why: HUD’s definition of homelessness excludes most children and youth whose families pay for a motel room, or who must stay with other people temporarily, because there is nowhere else to go. These situations are unstable and often unsafe, putting children and youth at high risk of trafficking and violence. Under HUD’s definition, children and youth in such living situations are not even assessed for services. Other federal programs recognize that children and youth in such living situations are homeless.

    How: Children and youth whose homelessness has been verified by one of eight specific federal programs would be eligible for HUD homeless assistance. They would be able to be assessed for services using the same “vulnerability” indices (including age-appropriate criteria) used currently to prioritize people for assistance.

    Benefit: Communities can assess and serve the most vulnerable children, youth and adults. This streamlined process would eliminate paperwork, improve interagency coordination, and help leverage resources.

2. Requires HUD to score applications primarily on whether they are cost-effective in meeting the priorities and goals that communities identify in their local plans.

    Why: HUD has imposed strong federal incentives and requirements for certain housing models, like Rapid Rehousing, and for certain populations, like chronically homeless adults, that do not match all communities’ needs. Even when communities identify greater needs for other populations or program models, they must adopt HUD’s national priorities in order to be competitive for funding.

    How: HUD would be required to ensure that scoring is based primarily on the extent to which communities demonstrate that a project a) meets the priorities identified in the local plan, and b) is cost-effective in meeting the goals identified in the local plan. HUD would be prohibited from awarding greater priority based solely on the specific homeless population or housing model. Local innovation and success would be incentivized.

    Benefit: Communities can provide assistance tailored to the unique needs of each homeless population in their community, including models most appropriate and effective for youth and families.

3. Improves HUD homeless assistance data and transparency.

    Why: HUD’s Point in Time (PIT) count leaves out many homeless children, youth and families, keeping them invisible and limiting public and private action.

    How: HUD would be required to include data on homelessness from other federal programs in its annual report to Congress. Also, if communities choose to conduct counts of homeless people, they would be required to count individuals that meet any part of the definition of homelessness.

    Benefit: Communities will have a more complete picture of homelessness among all who experience it, enabling more accurate and effective responses.

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Take Action

Tell your U.S. Representative and U.S Senators that all homeless children and youth need help,­ no matter where they happen to be staying. Take action here.

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Listen to Youth

There is no better way to understand homelessness than listening to the children and youth who have been through it. Listen to what they have to say.

Get the Facts

The Homeless Children and Youth Act is bi-partisan legislation that would make it easier for local communities to help homeless children, youth, and families. Get the facts.

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About the photos: Photos of children and youth experiencing homelessness provided by Diane Nilan, HEAR US Inc., used with permission. (c) 2012, Diane Nilan, HEAR US Inc.