100-Day Challenge Furthers Our Understanding of How to End Youth Homelessness

A critical first step to achieving the goal of preventing and ending youth homelessness in 2020 is to learn from communities about how they are successfully building comprehensive systems of care for young people. Across the nation, efforts to create coordinated community response systems for youth are already underway, and many communities are in the process of putting all of the pieces together.

Last week, I had the privilege of joining colleagues from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and Education, at the launch of the 100-Day Challenge to End Youth Homelessness in Austin, Texas. The 100-Day Challenge is a powerful new initiative, led by A Way Home America and the Rapid Results Institute, designed to support and guide three communities — Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles — in their efforts to develop and implement a coordinated community approach to end youth homelessness.

The launch provided communities an opportunity to assess their current local efforts and set ambitious 100-day goals around serving and housing youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness. One of the core philosophies of the 100-Day Challenge is that by working within a short timeframe, communities are able to generate an urgency to act, which allows teams to innovate, question the rules, and ultimately obtain better results. The convening also provided an opportunity for attendees to make connections with each other and share information and best practices.

As I soon learned, each city has unique challenges and approached goal-setting differently. In Los Angeles, the goal is to scale up their coordinated entry system throughout the county. Cleveland plans to provide extra support to youth who have aged out of foster care. And Austin will focus on foster care and LGBTQ youth and work with landlords to increase the supply of housing for youth experiencing homelessness. Despite these different approaches, the groups collectively hope to formulate ways to quickly move youth out of homelessness  and into stable housing by the end of the challenge.

With great enthusiasm, community teams sketched their visions for a system-wide response, which included ideas for effective coordinated entry processes, plans for allocating new and existing resources, and plans to identify, engage, and respond to the needs of youth experiencing homelessness. At the conclusion of the 100-Day Challenge, communities will participate in a sustainability workshop to ensure that progress continues.

The 100-Day Challenge presents an ambitious test for Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles, but these communities’ efforts to garner commitments and partnerships within the homelessness system, and with mainstream services, will further our understanding of what is needed to develop a coordinated community response and ultimately move the needle on ending youth homelessness. We are excited about what we stand to learn from these communities and look forward to supporting their progress over the next 100 days.

posted in: