The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced it is awarding $8,779,924 for Philadelphia to help end youth homelessness. The funding was awarded through HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP). The grant allows Philadelphia’s homelessness services providers to plan and pilot innovative programs designed specifically for young adults 18 to 24 years old.
HUD officials made the announcement at City Hall, alongside Mayor Jim Kenney, City leaders, youth homelessness advocates, local nonprofits, and members of the community.
“The YHDP is awarded to communities with a strong record of performance and creativity. We need to be forward thinking about how we serve the unique and special needs of youth experiencing homelessness by designing programs that meet their needs and are accessible to them where they are,” said HUD Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Matthew J. Heckles as he presented Philadelphia with a check.
Philadelphia was one of 17 communities selected by HUD to receive a YHDP grant this year, receiving the largest amount among cities that won the competitive award. The funds can support a range of housing programs, including rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing.
“While Philadelphia has made significant progress on the complex, national challenge of homelessness, cities can’t solve this problem alone,” Mayor Kenney said. “Addressing this issue requires collaboration at all levels, from HUD and City officials to nonprofit leaders and community members, and this new funding represents a critical step forward in continuing to make progress in Philadelphia.”
In Fiscal Year 2021, approximately 1,700 young adults received some form of assistance from Philadelphia’s homeless service system. The City of Philadelphia funds 29 separate programs that specifically address youth homelessness, and currently has 387 dedicated youth beds.
Philadelphia partnered with youth with lived experience of homelessness to write its YHDP application. Over the next several months, the Office of Homeless Services (OHS) will work with its youth advisory board, nonprofit agencies, and other partners to fund the services young people want most: Access to good paying jobs and apprenticeships, financial literacy, and long-term homeless housing.
In the past five years Philadelphia has seen a 22 percent reduction in homelessness, while family homelessness has dropped 42 percent, according to official counts required by HUD. Yet measuring youth homelessness – and piloting youth-focused programs – remains a challenge.
“This grant recognizes the unique needs of youth homelessness. These are the kinds of investments we need to break intergenerational poverty, and make sure we don’t leave young adults behind,” OHS Director Liz Hersh said.
Housing advocates, social services providers, formally unhoused young adults, and others filled the Mayor’s Reception Room at City Hall for the announcement.
“Along with other youth who have been fighting for this over the years, I’m excited for these funds. They will deliver more resources and better services,” said Joseph Hill-Coles, a Youth Navigator with Youth Services, Inc. “This feels like a promising future for youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia.”
The Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) is a federal initiative designed to reduce the number of youth experiencing homelessness. Its goal is to support selected communities, including rural, suburban, and urban areas across the United States, in the development and implementation of a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness.