Monday, April 24, 2017

#DCFY18 Budget Advocacy: Up to $5.7 million Toward Ending Youth Homelessness

Throughout budget season, we’ll be sharing talking points around the #DCFY18 Budget as it relates to our asks of Council and the Mayor for DCAYA’s key issue areas, which have included spotlights on Expanded Learning and Disconnected Youth. We conclude this week with Youth Homelessness.

THE ASK: Up to $3.3 million in additional funding to fully fund Year 1 of the Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness

The DC Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) approved the Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness in December 2016, and the plan includes a five-year projection for scaling services to youth experiencing homelessness. The plan proposes expanding existing services (transitional housing, crisis beds, PSH) as well as bringing new services for youth online (youth rapid re-housing, aftercare) in the first year, the cost of which we estimate to be $5.7 million.

Funding in the mayor's proposed budget for FY18 falls short of that mark, at just $2.4 million, meaning we'll need to work through Council to get to the investment we know is needed if we are serious about ensuring that by the end of 2022, homelessness among people age 24 is a rare, brief and non-recurring experience.

NOW: What are the needed program enhancements and what can be accomplished in the next year?

  • Aftercare and Prevention Services: We presently do not have an aftercare support system in place for youth who have experienced homelessness, meaning that a key service for preventing returns to homelessness is not being met. While the Plan calls for an upfront and full-scale investment to fund more than 60 aftercare slots in its first year, the budget as proposed only funds 20 of these slots.
  • Youth Shelter Beds: While it is understood that a bed in a shelter setting is not an acceptable replacement for a home, the annual census of youth experiencing homelessness reveals a present and persistent need for more safe and low-barrier access to beds for young people in crisis. The Plan calls for increasing our present capacity by 32 beds in its first year and then adding steadily and as needed in future years, but the budget as proposed funds just 20 additional beds.
  • Transitional Housing: Transitional living programs remain a vital intervention in the current system, and those that serve youth in a developmentally appropriate and culturally competent setting are all the more important given the need. They offer a more structured placement than shelter beds, and the Plan calls for 15 new units in its first year with a steady increase in future years to reach full scale by year five; the budget as proposed funds 10 additional units.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing: There are relatively few PSH units set aside for youth in the current system, and as we scale up other housing intervention programs for youth, it is important that PSH keeps pace to ensure that young people in those programs who are found to need ongoing case management and mental health supports have a place to go. The Plan calls for 16 new units in its first year; the budget as proposed funds 10 additional units.
  • Rapid Re-Housing for Youth: Beginning in FY18, DC will bring online a rent-subsidized housing program specifically for youth. While this is an exciting development, and the Plan calls for an ambitious scale in its first and future years, we also recognize that Youth Rapid Re-Housing programs are an option among a diverse array of programs in the District which will need to grow and evolve with our young people. With that in mind, we see the 20 units as proposed in the budget as a good start, and would encourage DHS to pursue efficiency and frequent program evaluation to maximize the impact of funding allotted for this program in its initial year.

Current performance indicates that DHS is poised to work with youth providers to meet the objectives of Year 1 of the Plan by deploying the funds for launching and enhancing the above programs.

For the current fiscal year, $2.3 million in new investments were committed in the FY17 budget to serve more youth experiencing homelessness. With those funds, DHS has to date:

  • Funded a new LGBTQ transitional housing site-based program at SMYAL (8 beds)
  • Funded a new LGBTQ transitional housing apartment-based program at the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) (6 beds)
  • Extended low-barrier crisis beds at Casa Ruby beyond hypothermia season through the end of this fiscal year (14 beds)
  • Supported additional staff at youth drop-in centers at Sasha Bruce Youthwork and LAYC
  • Increased youth street outreach support at Friendship Place
  • Set up a 6-person youth homelessness prevention team at DHS

HOW: Help advocate for funding toward ending youth homelessness in the #DCFY18 Budget

  • Please sign up to testify at the Budget Hearing for the Department of Human Services on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 10 am in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
  • To sign up to testify, you can email, or call the Committee on Human Services at 202-724-8170.

NEXT: Please sign up for updates from DCAYA to stay informed about our budget advocacy and our upcoming Youth Advocacy Day on May 11!

And in case you missed it, check out our Actions for Budget Advocacy - Week 3 email.

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