LOUISVILLE, Ky. (July 13, 2018) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that the Coalition for the Homeless will receive $3.45 million to support local efforts to reduce, and eventually eliminate, youth and young adult homelessness in Louisville.
The Homeless Youth Demonstration Grant is awarded to select communities in order to create comprehensive and innovative plans to address homelessness for unaccompanied youth age 24 and under. Louisville’s Homeless Youth Committee has been working for two years to understand the numbers and needs of homeless youth in the community, develop an extensive plan to address this need, create a by-name list of youth who need assistance with housing and services, and begin accessing resources to implement the plan.
A Youth Action Board made up solely of persons under 25 who have experienced homelessness has also been advising and engaging homeless youth throughout the effort. These groups will collaborate with HUD to finalize their plan and use the resources made available through this grant to implement programs that provide homeless outreach, services, and housing for homeless youth. The ultimate goal of this collaborative effort is to eliminate young adult homelessness in Louisville by 2020.
Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, shared her excitement and gratitude to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and explained: “This opportunity is only possible because so many community partners are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of Louisville’s youth. Our list of over 70 partners includes homeless service providers like Family Scholar House, Home of the Innocents, Centerstone (TAYLRD), and YMCA Safe Place. But they have been supported by so many others including but not limited to the Coalition Supporting Young Adults, our local police, Louisville Free Public Library, Louisville Metro Housing Authority, KentuckianaWorks, True Up, St. Vincent de Paul, and Youth Build. We have learned so much already about how to work as a team and this new resource gives us the energy and resources to make it to the finish line.”
News of the major grant comes almost exactly one year after the Coalition for the Homeless and a team of local service providers launched the 100-Day Challenge on Youth Homelessness on Aug. 1, 2017. The project had an ambitious goal to end homelessness for at least 100 young adults in our community by Nov. 8, 2017. The team achieved and even surpassed that goal, housing 115 young adults, a 560 percent increase in the rate at which our community had been housing this population.
When the 100-Day Challenge launched, there were 220 identified homeless young adults. Today, that number is down to 106, marking a more than 50% reduction in youth homelessness since last summer.
Through the 100-Day Challenge, the Coalition and its many partners have made great strides in improving our system to better serve homeless youth. Local police rescued several victims of sex trafficking, homeless youth received special vouchers to help them with mental health needs for the first time, new employment resources were identified, and JCPS began identifying vulnerable students sleeping in cars who needed to get to a place of stability. The Coalition also raised private dollars to address barriers that prevent young adults from getting housed quickly, like the need to pay for deposits, furniture, and moving expenses.
The Coalition recognizes that it will take the entire Louisville community to achieve the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020 and calls on compassionate neighbors to help. Individuals can help by donating to Rx: Housing to fund deposits and furniture, hiring or mentoring a homeless or disconnected young person, participating in the Host Homes program, and advocating for continued funding for the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund. In addition, landlords can rent housing to a homeless person with a voucher and supportive services (contact John Miles at Metro Louisville at [email protected]).