Marion and Polk counties are on a mission to prevent and end youth homelessness. The community is committed to making youth homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.
Six months after learning that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a $3.7 million dollar Youth Homeless Demonstration Program (YHDP) grant to the Marion-Polk region, the required Coordinated Community Plan (CCP) has been submitted for HUD approval.
The plan calls for much more than $3.7M to end youth homelessness. It elevates youth leadership; expands cross-agency coordination; and seeks systems-alignment between child welfare, education, juvenile justice, and social services.
Once approved by HUD, the plan will provide the basis for a local Request for Proposals (RFP) process that will result in YHDP grants being issued for supportive services and joint transitional housing and rapid rehousing projects to serve young people under age 25.
The Youth Action Board (YAB), called Backbone, led the process to develop the community vision. The 18 youth members of YAB chose the name Backbone because homelessness forced them to grow a backbone early – and they are showing they have strong backbones by standing up and working hard to end youth homelessness.
Building on a foundation of first-hand experience and sincere motivation to make things better, Backbone and the other members of the Planning Team engaged in an iterative and collaborative process to develop this shared community vision statement:
Every youth and young adult has a safe and stable place in their community to live, sleep, connect and thrive, where each unique individual feels valued being their authentic self and has supported opportunities to become confidently self-sufficient.
The goals of this plan include:
- COMPREHENSIVE. The community identifies all unaccompanied youth.
- STRATEGIC. The community uses prevention and diversion strategies whenever possible, and otherwise provides immediate access to low barrier crisis housing and services to any youth who needs and wants it.
- COORDINATED ENTRY. The community uses coordinated entry processes to effectively link all youth experiencing homelessness to housing and services solutions that are tailored to their needs.
- PERMANENT HOUSING. The community acts with urgency and swiftly assists youth to move into permanent or non-time-limited housing options with appropriate services and supports.
- SUSTAINABILITY. The community has resources, plans, and system capacity in place to continue to prevent and quickly end future experiences of homelessness among youth.
- EQUITY. The community has a comprehensive youth homelessness system that ensures equity in access, experiences while seeking and receiving services, and outcomes for all YYAs across the CoC’s geographic region.
This new youth-led plan, responsive to local data and focused on tangible outcomes, would not have been possible without so many community leaders from different sectors, backgrounds, age groups, and viewpoints coming together in a common vision.
In total, more than 170 individuals, including representatives of 72 agencies and organizations participated in developing the goals, objectives, action plans, and funding priorities contained in the Mid-Willamette Valley Coordinated Community Plan to End Youth Homelessness.
Collectively, the partners who crafted and approved of this plan, along with the greater community look forward to the implementation phase and commit to continuous system and program improvements on the road to ending youth homelessness.