Take Action: Homelessness

Chronic Homelessness

Chronically homeless individuals have a mental disability, physical disability, or drug dependency and have experienced extensive periods without adequate or stable shelter. Chronically homeless individuals require stable housing and support services to facilitate their integration into a community.

Learn more

Youth Homelessness

Homeless youth, also called unaccompanied youth, are defined by the Mckinney-Vento Act as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” These youth, aged 15-24, have been separated from their families or guardians. They do not have serious mental health or other issues that require long-term residential care. Youth homelessness programs provide extensive outreach, proactive family reconciliation programs, and youth-centered transitional living programs.

Learn more

Source: Root Cause

 

Chronic Homelessness

Housing first is the recommended approach to end chronic homelessness. This approach provides permanent and independent housing as well as support services. Housing first is based on consumer choice and harm reduction, meaning that participation in mental health treatment and sobriety are not strictly required, but encouraged. The core components of housing first are:

  • Effective outreach and intake to find and treat the most vulnerable subset of the homeless population and begin the process of permanently housing them.
  • Consumer-driven mindset in which homeless individuals are treated with dignity and respect and housing and supportive services are choice based.
  • Support services to provide the services necessary to ensure housing stability, promote mental and physical well-being and community integration, and provide a support system available for community transition.

Learn more

Youth Homelessness

Youth homelessness programs vary widely; SIR has found that high quality programs have the following components:

  • Extensive outreach to effectively find and connect with homeless youth throughout multiple channels.
  • Proactive family reconciliation programs for youth who can and want to return home.
  • Youth-centered transitional living programs to provide long-term services, including housing, for youth who cannot return home.
  • Collection of data to measure outcomes and impact.

Learn more

Source: Root Cause

Chronic Homelessness

While the issue as a whole can be evaluated using the total number of chronically homeless individuals, successful housing-first programs can be measured by a number of indicators. These include stabilization rate, percent of individuals who are enrolled in government programs (e.g., Medicaid, SSI), and consumer satisfaction.

  • Stabilization rates refer to the percentage of housing-first consumers who remain stably housed (in the organization's housing or independent housing) over a certain period. Stabilization rates should be over 80%.
  • Enrollment in government programs measures the organization's ability to connect individuals to existing programs. Ideally, this percentage should be 100%.
  • Consumer satisfaction is measured by organizations' using surveys and are done according to a variety of scales and methodologies. Consumer satisfaction ratings vary between surveys.

Learn more

Youth Homelessness

Programs should track indicators in three outcome areas: housing stability, educational attainment, and employment retention. These are considered the most important basic steps on the path to self-sufficient adulthood. Appropriate indicators may vary for different types of programs, and it is important for interested donors to have a conversation with organizations regarding how they track the success of their programs as they relate to participant outcomes. Below are examples of indicators.

  • Housing Stability: Percentage of youth who make a transition to independent housing and remain stably housed 12 months after program exit.
  • Educational Attainment: Percentage of youth showing educational advancement.
  • Employment Retention: Percentage of youth who gain employment during the program and remain employed 12 months after program exit.

In addition to these three outcomes, other more subjective outcomes, such as stability and level of social support, are difficult to measure, and experts are working to develop metrics. More funding is needed to enable the field to better evaluate homeless youth programs.

Learn more

Source: Root Cause