|Update| Youth focus group on family & kinship strengthening

Hello from Baltimore!

On Tuesday, August 29,  2017, STAR TRACK and Point Source Youth (PSY) hosted a focus group on family and kinship strengthening at Youth Empowered Society in Baltimore.  Ten young adults, several of whom consider themselves chosen family, gathered over pizza.  The group tossed around a stuffed toy in the shape of an emoji  to make sure only one person was speaking at a time.

This focus group was built collaboratively.  At July’s PSY Baltimore Pilot meeting, pilot partners discussed the family and kinship strengthening program that STAR TRACK is initiating. The ideas behind family and kinship strengthening programs are to 1) recognize that some young adults experiencing homelessness want support engaging with families and loved ones around issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or other issues impacting the family and to 2) provide that support in concrete ways for young adults and the families that they choose.

Family and kinship strengthening programs can take different forms; community outreach, family therapy, or psychosocial groups are some of the iterations.  Justin Sage-Passant, longtime family therapist at Eva’s Initiatives in Toronto, says  “Family conflict does not mean conflict with all family members, or conflict at all times.” This idea is a core tenant of family and kinship strengthening. Where are the sources of connection? Is there financial, emotional, or psychic support? How can any or all of these be strengthened? If family is important to young people, it should be important to their allies in service provision to help answer these questions.

The first collaborative focus group at YES was premised on a core belief of the partners-- that any program should be meaningfully informed by the experiences and expressed needs of young people. The group was led by Stefani Levin, a feminist and harm reduction-oriented therapist at STAR TRACK, and Jade, Youth Consultant with the PSY Baltimore Pilot and leader at STAR TRACK’s NextGen program. 

What did we learn from this group? We learned that family members making sure their own basic needs are met can have difficulty prioritizing the needs of young people, even when those young people are facing homelessness. We learned that the foster care system can separate siblings and that visits with family do not replace the positive psychic benefits of living with family. We learned that youth find much to be grateful for from the people in their lives. We learned that youth identify many ways individuals and systems have let them down. We learned that young adults care deeply about protecting and nurturing their children and younger siblings.

Most importantly, we learned that family is a verb. “Family is not blood,” one young person said, “Family is the one you show your loyalty to and the one who shows it back to you.”

“Family is someone who’s there for you when times are heard.”

“They give their 100% like I give 100%.

Verbs convey action, and family and kinship strengthening is a way to support youth the action of connecting with, seeking support from, or processing their histories and relationships with family members. The young adults we talked to expressed interest in this support and helping design the STARTRACK family and kinship strengthening program, which will be the topic of our next focus group, over pizza or perhaps Chinese food. Stay tuned for an update an update. And in the meantime thank you to all of the young people and adult allies who are giving their 100%, it's not easy work and it's worth celebrating.

Stay tuned for an update from our second focus group!

Housing and Serving Undocumented Immigrants and Their Families

Newly added to our resource library is a great presentation by Piper Ehlen of HomeBase on serving undocumented immigrants in HUD and other federal programs.  You can access it here.

“Undocumented households have rights to some housing programs that get federal funding and may be eligible for housing assistance from the federal government even if no one in the family is a citizen or has a green card."

“The purpose of this letter is to remind housing and service providers that they must not turn away immigrants experiencing homelessness or victims of domestic violence or human trafficking, on the basis of their immigration status, from certain housing and services necessary for life or safety – such as street outreach, emergency shelter, and short-term housing assistance including transitional housing and rapid re-housing funded through the ESG and CoC Programs.”

— HomeBase, 2017, National Alliance to End Youth Homelessness 2017 Conference


Five Open Positions

Check out our new Jobs Section of our website here where we will post Point Source Youth positions and those of our partners.  There are five open positions three cities: New York City, Baltimore, and San Jose

Host Home Coordinators in Baltimore at St Ambrose Housing Aid Center and San Jose at the Bill Wilson Center, a Point Source Youth Research Assistant in Baltimore and New York City, and a Case Manager for our great employment partner Per Scholas in New York.

Check them out!


The Point Source Youth Baltimore Pilot is Launching

Youth Empowered Society (YES), St. Ambrose Housing Aide, and the STAR TRACK Adolescent Health Program at the University of Maryland, in partnership with Point Source Youth, Launch Innovative Solutions to Address the Youth Homelessness Crisis in Baltimore.

In recognition of the growing youth homelessness crisis in Baltimore, a Point Source Youth Baltimore Pilot is launching three innovative solutions to end youth homelessness. Youth Empowered Society (YES), St Ambrose Housing Aide, and the STAR TRACK Adolescent Health Program at the University of Maryland join Minneapolis, MN, San Jose, CA, and New York City, NY as cities launching a Point Source Youth City Pilot.

Youth Empowered Society (YES) expands its Rapid Re-housing Program for youth experiencing homelessness with additional beds and an increased length of stay, supported by HUD through the local Baltimore Continuum of Care.

St Ambrose Housing Aide launches the first host home program in Baltimore for youth experiencing homelessness.  Community members who are interested in becoming a short-term host for a young person experiencing homelessness are carefully screened and matched with youth who are supported by intensive case management by the Baltimore partners.  Hosts are positive and supportive of youth development, while recognizing the importance of youth control and autonomy over their own lives.

The STAR TRACK Adolescent Health Program at the University of Maryland expands its current work with youth experiencing homelessness to include family and kinship strengthening in Baltimore, in addition to offering individual therapy to youth enrolled in partner programs.  

“Point Source Youth is dedicated to scaling up new solutions to address the youth homelessness crisis in 50 cities in 10 years.  We are thrilled to work in Baltimore.  We have seen over the past year in setting up these programs an amazing group of dedicated, talented, and community driven partners.  We also see a commitment from the city, the Continuum of Care, philanthropists, and the community to scale up additional solutions to address the youth homelessness crisis in Baltimore,” said Larry Cohen, Executive Director Point Source Youth.

“Youth in Baltimore who experience homelessness need their own housing that they choose.  They need to determine what they need.  YES is thrilled to expand its rapid re-housing program and to partner with St Ambrose Housing Aid and STAR TRACK,” added Lara Law, Director, YES.

“St Ambrose Housing Aide’s Home Sharing Program has a long history of success and of being embedded in the community it serves.  We are excited to expand the program with host homes for youth experiencing homelessness and to continue our legacy of working to support our community,” explained Gerard Joab, Executive Director, St Ambrose Housing Aid.

“STAR TRACK works deeply with trans youth of color in Baltimore who are disproportionately affected by the youth homelessness crisis.  We are thrilled to expand our services in Baltimore, to work with local partners to provide housing supports, and to work on a new program that looks at chosen family, extended family, and kin as a potential resource to be strengthened over time,” explained Vicki Tepper, Division Head, University of Maryland.

“Point Source Youth is committed to amplifying the expertise and wisdom of local organizations to scale safe, secure, and decent housing options for young people experiencing homelessness. We’re honored and excited to be launching the Baltimore City Pilot in partnership with STAR TRACK, YES, and St. Ambrose Housing Aide as well as the youth who will provide consultation on this Pilot every step of the way,” says Jenna Mellor, Associate Director of Point Source Youth.  

For more information please contact:

Jenna Mellor
Point Source Youth


Lara Law


Karen Heyward-West
St Ambrose Housing Aid


Jamal Hailey

National Symposium on Solutions to End Youth Homelessness

Point Source Youth announces the National Symposium on Solutions to End Youth Homelessness at the NYU Rosenthal Pavilion, one of the the largest symposia in the nation specific to solutions to address youth homelessness, with 50 speakers and over 250 leaders, advocates, and community members coming together to co-create solutions to ending the youth homelessness crisis in New York City and throughout the U.S.

Speakers include NYC Commissioner Steven Banks, representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development the U.S., the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.   

Point Source Youth is hosting the symposium in collaboration with the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and the NYU Silver School of Social work.  It is sponsored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

"We are here to work together to provide youth experiencing homelessness with the housing supports and services that they want and they need, for the length of time appropriate to them, so they can achieve their goals in life. Fifty speakers from two continents are here, as are providers, government officials, philanthropists, and foundations from across the US.  We are here to do more. We are here to do better," said Larry Cohen, Executive Director, and co-founder of Point Source Youth.

"As we work to turn the tide on homelessness, addressing the needs of young people facing hard times is crucial. Under this Administration, we have tripled the total number of youth beds, opened the first-ever LGBTQI shelter dedicated to serving gender non-conforming young people as they get back on their feet, and we are expanding rental assistance programs to include youth living in DYCD shelters—but there is more to be done. We remain focused on deepening the progress we have made, enhancing access to targeted high-quality resources and helping more and more young people transition back into permanent housing or avoid homelessness altogether," stated Steven Banks, Department of Social Services Commissioner, New York City.

"The McSilver Institute is honored to co-sponsor this convening to examine effective solutions to the youth homelessness crisis. As a research institute, we are committed to understanding the root causes of such issues and to developing evidence-based interventions. This symposium is a unique opportunity for researchers, service providers, youth who have experienced homelessness, and policy makers to collaborate on solutions that work," said Dr. Michael A. Lindsey, Director, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.

"Housing First originated in New York City and has been successful in reducing chronic homelessness in the US and in many other countries. Youth who experience homelessness are among the fastest rising homeless subpopulations and we need to focus on evidenced-based solutions such as Housing First to address this crisis," declared Deborah Padgett, Professor, New York University and Planning Committee Member.

"We have made much progress addressing the issues of veteran's homelessness, demonstrating how interventions like rapid rehousing can be impactful and cost effective.  It's time to look at critical populations such as youth who experience homelessness.   There is a sense of urgency given the high utilization of services by them.  We need evidence-based solutions that effectively address their needs," added Dennis Culhane, Professor, University of Pennsylvania, and and Planning Committee Member

The National Symposium on Solutions to End Youth Homelessness is taking part at the Rosenthal Pavilion at the NYU Kimmel Center on June 19th and June 20th from 9am – 4pm. www.pointsourceyouth.org/symposium  

Point Source Youth is a national non-profit organization, headquartered in New York City, dedicated to ending youth homelessness. Point Source Youth works in partnership with experts, funders, policy makers, advocacy groups, and local service providers to fund, implement, and measure scalable interventions to effectively engage at-risk young people and end youth homelessness.

Pilot kick-off conversation with Baltimore partners

Partners from St. Ambrose Housing Aide, Youth Empowered Society!, Star Track, the Mayor's Office of Social Services, and Point Source Youth convene at St. Ambrose Housing Aide

Partners from St. Ambrose Housing Aide, Youth Empowered Society!, Star Track, the Mayor's Office of Social Services, and Point Source Youth convene at St. Ambrose Housing Aide

On Friday, June 9th, our fabulous partners for the PSY Baltimore Pilot met for lunch and a pilot kick-off conversation about how three distinct programs for supporting youth experiencing homelessness--rapid rehousing, host homes, and family and kinship strengthening-- can work in an integrated and collaborative way.

One theme from Friday's meeting was resoundingly clear: Baltimore's providers are committed to assuring that all young people in the city have access to a safe, secure home and are doing the groundwork necessary to make this commitment a reality.

We are thrilled to partner with Star Track at the University of Maryland on family and kinship strengthening, as well as free individual therapy and trans-inclusive healthcare services; Youth Empowered Society! on rapid rehousing; and St. Ambrose Housing Aide on host homes.

Keep your eye out for an official launch announcement in the coming weeks. And in the meantime, we are so grateful for Baltimore's partners who are walking the walk every day. 

Point Source Youth publishes chapter in new book on youth homelessness

Here at Point Source Youth, we're busy getting ready for the National Symposium on Solutions to End Youth Homelessness, which is rapidly approaching on June 19-20! And we'd be remiss if we didn't ask: have you registered yet? If not, today is the day!
Click here to register!
In the midst of our breathless preparations, we have exciting news to share! Yesterday, Point Source Youth's chapter on scalable and effective solutions to end the youth homeless crisis was published inWhere am I going to go? Intersectional approaches to ending LGBTQ2S youth homelessness in Canada & the U.S.
Click here for the book in PDF!
This groundbreaking anthology, edited by Alex Abramovich and Jama Shelton, is the first academic text focusing on LGBTQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and two-spirit) youth homelessness.
Join co-editor Jama Shelton and 35 other great speakers at the National Symposium for a deeper dive into causes and solutions to end youth homelessness. And more great news: the first 50 folks to arrive to the symposium on Tuesday morning will receive complimentary copies of the book!
In solidarity,
Jenna Mellor
Associate Director, Point Source Youth

New York Times article on student homelessness, featuring Paul Toro and Sara Goldrick-Rab

A recent article in the New York Times discusses the problem of homelessness among college students.  The article draws on the perspectives of Paul Toro and Sara Goldrick-Rab, two leading researchers studying and raising awareness of pervasive student homelessness.  We're excited that both Paul and Sara will be joining us at our symposium in June.  To learn more about the problem and what we can do to solve it, read the original article (linked below), and attend the symposium!


Jenna Mellor joins Point Source Youth as Associate Director

Point Source Youth is pleased to welcome Jenna Mellor to our growing team as Associate Director. Directly prior to joining Point Source Youth, Jenna worked for Congressman Jerrold Nadler on constituent issues related to affordable homes, public housing and immigration. Jenna is motivated by the belief that all people deserve agency over their own lives and wellbeing. As a child, she witnessed the structural violence and social disenfranchisement in the Atlantic City region, which provides the foundation for her nine-year career as a sex educator, harm reduction advocate, and community organizer. This experience informs her commitment to intersectional work that addresses the impact of power structures.  

Jenna previously managed the flagship Outreach Program at HIPS in Washington, DC, which supports folks engaged in sex work, sex trade, and criminalized drug use. She led a team of over 75 volunteers to offer a diverse range of services including HIV testing, harm reduction counseling, crisis response, and syringe exchange. This work inspired her commitment to expanding nonjudgmental mental health and housing-first options.

After HIPS, she moved to Cochabamba, Bolivia to see her partner’s hometown and was mentored by a street psychologist, working from a youth-empowered perspective, who engaged young folks who live outdoors and inhale glue. She then returned to her treasured home state of NJ as a Global Health Corps Fellow at Covenant House Newark, where she coordinated medical services for homeless and displaced young adults. Jenna redesigned the Medical Department to include holistic wellness programming and then joined the Covenant House staff to solidify this programming and launch a Youth Advisory Board to incorporate a meaningful youth voice into the organizational structure. She continues her home state commitment by serving on the boards of New Leaders Council—New Jersey, where she was a 2016 Fellow, and the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund.

Jenna graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Social Studies and wrote her honors thesis on the impact of race and class in coercive reproductive policies, like involuntary sterilization and the Hyde Amendment, enacted through state and federal law.

As Associate Director at Point Source Youth, Jenna will work with our local and national partners as well as Point Source Youth’s research advisors to expand solutions to end youth homelessness in 50 cities and towns in 10 years.

Hiring a Program Manager in NYC, and a wave of new funding

We hope the new year finds you well!  2017 has gotten off to a great start for Point Source Youth, and we have a lot of exciting news to share.

New Funding

We are thrilled to announce our expansion with additional funding from the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, the Henry van Ameringen Foundation, Gilead, and expanded funding from our inaugural funder, the Palette Fund, who have provided a new four-year grant for Point Source Youth's work.  This new expanded funding will support our expansion to three to four additional cities this year and totals $335,000.

We are Hiring!

Point Source youth is hiring a Program Director/Manager based out of New York City to lead our local work and especially our New York City expansion and our annual convening.  Please click here for a job description and instructions for applying. 

Funding for New Housing

In each city where we work, we collaborate with outstanding local service providers.  We are happy to report that in New York City, our Rapid Rehousing partner, Bailey House, was awarded a HUD grant through the New York City Continuum of Care to support 30 rapid rehousing units for LGBTQ youth.  In addition, our Baltimore partner, Youth Empowered Society - YES, was awarded funding to support 15 units by the Baltimore CoC.  The awards total over $1.4 million.

We look forward to successful launches in 2017 and to reporting back on their progress!