Youth Homelessness Services Receive Some Support, but Not Nearly Enough
Due to our collective advocacy, the DC Council found funds to restore nearly $307,000 in cuts to youth shelter and emergency services, rapid rehousing, and extended transitional housing--all essential services that get and keep young people off the streets. The budget includes funds for 10 new permanent supportive housing units for young people aging out of the youth system who will need long-term support in the adult system. This investment is an important step forward in cutting off the pipeline to chronic homelessness. In response to years of advocacy from the Youth Homelessness Advocacy Coalition, the DC Council will increase the per-unit investment for extended transitional housing (ETH). ETH is a service enriched program that is designed for young people with long histories of abuse, neglect, trauma, and both educational and workforce disruptions. With increased per-unit funding, providers will be able to fully embed the clinical, social and emotional, job training, and life skills services young people need to thrive independently in the future.
While we appreciate these two investments, we are disappointed to see that neither Mayor Bowser nor the DC Council could find just over $1.6 million to fund the workforce programming, behavioral health, and mentorship programs that would have gone far to improve the lives and experiences of homeless young people. At a time when youth crime is soaring, youth are struggling to remain on track academically and economically, and are suffering the trauma of persistent social isolation and disruption, this failure to fully support unhoused young people is disheartening.