What does Point Source Youth do in each city where you work, and how does that fit into your plans to address youth homelessness at a national level?

Point Source Youth aims to dramatically reduce youth homelessness nationwide within 10 years. In that time, we plan to develop programs in 50 cities delivering three crucial and under-utilized interventions: family reconnection, short-term host homes, and rapid rehousing for youth. Along the way, we are producing research to demonstrate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these interventions, and advocating for policymakers to devote much greater resources to addressing this urgent problem.

Point Source Youth will provide organizations in each city with a platform to access:

  • A plan, strategy, and on-going support system to implement these three proven interventions.
  • An evaluation of their local implementation by top researchers in the field, which will provide the evidence that shows that these interventions are both effective and cost-effective in the long run.
  • Access to additional funding in their cities and states through our network of local funders and fundraisers.
  • Technical assistance with obtaining federal funding from Medicare and HUD.
  • Access to national foundations and donors outside of their city and state.

How do you decide where to develop new programs?

We select our cities and partner organizations based on four key criteria.

  • Demonstrated need. We believe that we should work where we can do the most good. Cities with large numbers of underserved youth are a top priority.
  • Availability of implementation partners. We need implementation partners who are well qualified to deliver the services for each intervention. For family reconnection, we need a mental healthcare provider with LGBTQ competency, for short-term host homes, we need a partner who can coordinate with hosts and deliver excellent case management, and for rapid rehousing we need a housing partner with youth experience and good LGBTQ competency. After year 2, we will develop and publicize an RFP for organizations in additional cities to partner with us.
  • Local funding support. Local foundations, individuals, and government are an important source of support for our work. In each city, we identify experienced fundraisers and influential donors who wish to be champions for our cause. We also ensure that we can work with the local HUD Continuum of Care to secure HUD funding for rapid rehousing.
  • The ability to create a coordinated system. We must be able to work with local and state officials to integrate our work into the state's homelessness prevention plans, like we are doing with the Office to End Homelessness in Minneapolis.

Will Point Source Youth deliver services in these cities?

No. Point Source Youth’s mission is to empower existing organizations to effectively address youth homelessness themselves. We will provide access to additional funding for local organizations, to a body of shared knowledge built up from our experiences in other cities, and to a team of researchers and other service providers who will provide technical expertise as well as an evaluation of their local program. We will also work to ensure continued funding for the programs they implement.

How will Point Source Youth effectively scale to 50 cities? Is there enough interest? Isn’t it hard to work with existing organizations who are already stretched and often have limited time and bandwidth?

There is tremendous demand and interest nationally in the three interventions we are supporting – family reconnection, short term host homes, and rapid rehousing for youth. When we ask local service providers to list interventions they wish to expand or launch, over and over again, these three are at the tops of their lists.

Second, these three interventions have low barriers to implementation. Organizations and communities do not need to engage in large capital campaigns, to obtain permits, or to significantly change existing service systems. Family reconnection has little to no barriers to entry, short-term host homes require the successful recruiting of hosts, and since rapid rehousing is scattered-site, market-rate housing, the largest barrier is recruiting land lords.

Lastly, these three interventions provide more benefit and require fewer resources than almost any alternatives since they are youth driven, scattered site, and leverage existing community structures.

Why family reconnection, short-term host homes, and rapid rehousing?

After two years of research, numerous interviews with service providers, site visits nationally and internationally, and many conversations with leading researchers on homelessness, we found that these three solutions have the most initial evidence for success. They are also scalable, youth centered, and not paternalistic.

How do you ensure you do not compete for resources with local organizations?

Point Source Youth will not deliver services. Money raised nationally and locally will support project coordination, research, and delivery of services locally. For the ConneQT Pilot in Minneapolis, over 80% of the budget is for the local implementation of services and housing for youth. In fact, our partnerships expand the resources available to the organizations we work with: launching a new, collaborative program draws interest from new funders locally and provides an opportunity for our partners to deepen their relationships with existing funders.

How do you develop and document best practices for each of the three interventions? How are they continuously improved and shared, and how do you ensure they are successfully utilized?

In Minneapolis, each organization in the ConneQT pilot is helping to create and document the best practices for their intervention, in consultation with leading academics studying homelessness and other national and international service providers with relevant expertise. As the qualitative, quantitative, and formative research is published, the best practices will be updated to reflect lessons learned.

Point Source Youth, together with the ConneQT partners, Avenues for Homeless Youth, RELAIM!, and The Link, will create and maintain practice guides. As each new city implements the interventions, their local organizations will collaborate on new editions of the guides.

Lastly, the guides will be supplemented with quarterly best practice conference calls and an annual meeting of partners.

How does your research and evaluation work relate to your organizing and advocacy work and your plans to scale nationally?

A critical part of Point Source Youth’s mission is to build the evidence that demonstrates that these solutions work. In each city, we will produce and lead an evaluation of the interventions together with ABT Associates, Dennis Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania, and Paul Toro from Wayne State University. This evidence will then be used locally and nationally to advocate for continued funding for these interventions and for addressing youth homelessness generally.