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!

Read Point Source Youth's presentation from Reckoning with Homelessness in NYC

Back in May, Point Source Youth's President and co-founder Larry Cohen spoke on a panel at the conference on Reckoning with Homelessness in New York City.  Hosted by NYU's McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and co-chaired by Dennis Culhane, one of our scientific advisors, the conference brought together many leading figures in policy and services for the homeless.  We were grateful for the opportunity to share our approach and learn from a wide array of researchers and service providers.

Larry's presentation from the conference is now online.  You can read it here.

Op-ed in The Advocate: "This Is Our Plan to End Youth Homelessness"

Point Source Youth's President Larry Cohen recently published the following op-ed in The Advocate discussing the crisis of youth homelessness in the USA, the work that we're doing to address it, and our theory of change.

This Is Our Plan to End Youth Homelessness

What if I told you that we’re on the brink of ending the youth homelessness crisis, one of the nation’s most visible and shameful epidemics? Yes, it will take a tremendous amount of work and a huge increase in national funding. For some youth, homelessness will still occur, and we will work to make it brief, rare, and nonrecurring. Given that, I’m happy to say it’s still not an exaggeration or a case of wishful thinking to say there is a clear path to end this crisis, and Point Source Youth and an amazing group of partners, researchers, and collaborators are working to finally end youth homelessness.

Nearly 2 million youth experience homelessness each year. Experts estimate that 50 percent are youth of color and up to 40 percent identify as LGBTQ — and many are both. Most alarming are the reports that the number of LGBTQ homeless youth is increasing. There is a severe lack of services for these young people, and of the services that do exist, few work to prevent youth from becoming homeless in the first place. What is widely agreed upon is that there is little to no data showing what works to end this crisis.

This is why a committed group of leaders came together to launch Point Source Youth in 2015 — to respond to these service gaps by demonstrating how we will effectively end the crisis, and to produce the data to show what works for different youth populations. Point Source Youth works with existing service providers, advocacy organizations, funders, academic experts, and researchers to implement and rigorously test interventions that can drastically reduce youth homelessness.

Most people know that homeless youth face immediate threats to their health and well-being — really, to their very survival. Understandably, most organizations working on this issue prioritize providing these youth with services they need to survive, and therefore have tremendous funding constraints. Doing the evaluation and research work needed to create a road map to truly end the youth homeless crisis takes a back seat to providing immediate services.

This is where Point Source Youth comes in. Our mission is to work in partnership to fund, implement, and measure three highly scalable interventions — family strengthening, short-term host homes, and rapid rehousing — to effectively engage at-risk young people and to drastically reduce youth homelessness. Point Source Youth does this for all youth but places a special emphasis on LGBTQ youth and youth of color because of their disproportionate representation in the homeless population. Importantly, we do not provide services ourselves; instead we partner with local service providers to help them fund, implement, and evaluate these three promising interventions.

Our organization and theory of change are not business as usual. We have adopted several principles that guide our work and help us do things differently. First, we are driven by research and data. We focus on those three interventions because they are scalable and have exciting preliminary indicators of successfully reducing the number of homeless youth in countries around the world and in several U.S. cities. They are not theories — they have demonstrated results but have not yet been adopted and need more rigorous data on their effectiveness and how they best integrate with existing systems.

Most importantly, Point Source Youth is working with leading evaluation experts and academics to make sure that the interventions are having impact and are being adapted to make them better. We are starting this year with a pilot project in Minneapolis, called the ConneQT Collaborative, together with three amazing partners — Avenues for Homeless Youth, the Link, and RECLAIM! — to make sure we get the three interventions right.

Second, our approach to paying for these three interventions reflects the complex and expensive nature of the problem we’re trying to solve. Point Source Youth believes that truly ending this crisis requires financial commitments from individuals, foundations, corporations, and public agencies. We believe that bringing together this diverse group of funders is the most sustainable and effective way to achieve our mission.

Third, we want to see long-term impacts. We at Point Source Youth realize our goal is ambitious, especially as we take on such a seemingly intractable problem in our country. But we feel it is too much of a crisis to not act. We need to prove what works and we then need to do more of it. We believe our unique approach focusing on the three interventions and on building the data and evaluation of what works and what doesn’t is fundamental to ending this crisis.

Equally important, we have deliberately designed our research-driven approach and finance model to enable us to learn which populations of youth these interventions work for and then help cities, towns, and rural communities fund them to scale.

Finally, throughout these three principles we have been deliberate to include opportunities for collaboration with the many advocacy organizations, service providers, academic experts, funders, and public agencies already working hard to support and save homeless youth. Point Source Youth has no intention of duplicating work already under way — instead, we want to work in partnership to increase the capacity and technical know-how of the field.

Failing in our mission means failing millions of youth who have nowhere to call home. We’re determined to come through for them. That’s what motivates us to work in solidarity with so many others already in the trenches and end this shameful crisis once and for all. 

Read the original article in The Advocate here.

A funding announcement, a conference, and a new report

Life at Point Source Youth has been eventful lately.  Just in the past week, three exciting things have happened:

Funding from the Arcus Foundation and the Palette Fund

We're delighted to officially announce that Point Source Youth has received funding from the Arcus Foundation and the Palette Fund, which will support our Minneapolis Pilot, the ConneQT Collaborative.  You can read more in our official press release.

Conference on Reckoning with Homelessness in NYC

Point Source Youth's President and co-founder Larry Cohen was invited to speak on a panel at the conference on Reckoning with Homelessness in New York City, hosted by NYU's McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research.  It was a humbling opportunity to discuss our work alongside a number of luminaries in the field, including one of our scientific advisors Dennis Culhane, who co-chaired the event.  You can find more info on the conference and presenters here.

"At the Intersections" Report highlights Point Source Youth

Finally, we're honored that our work has been highlighted in the report "At the Intersections: A Collaborative Resource on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness," co-authored by the True Colors Fund and the National LGBTQ Task Force.  The report is a great way to learn about innovative approaches to addressing the problem, and you can read it online in its entirety here.

Point Source Youth at Creating Change, January 20-24 in Chicago

Here at Point Source Youth we're gearing up for the National LGBTQ Task Force's Creating Change Conference, taking place in Chicago from January 20-24. We'll be there together with our partners RECLAIM!, Avenues for Homeless Youth, The Link, and most importantly a team of youth advisors who have been working with us to develop our pilot program for three innovative strategies to end youth homelessness: Family Reconnection, Short-Term Host Homes, and Rapid Rehousing.

These youth are the members of the Project Live Out Loud Advisory Committee, which is made up of 8 youth who have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness and identify as LGB and/or T.  They are co-designing the rapid rehousing program with The Link as well as informing the work of the larger pilot including its evaluation. The youth advisors will be speaking at one of the conference sessions:

By Youth 4 Youth: The Project Live Out Loud Panel
Thursday, January 21 at 12:15 PM, during the Youth Homelessness Institute.

We'd love to see you there! Please drop by and say hi if you can make it. Also feel free to write to us if you'd like to meet up to chat about our work at another time during the conference.

Point Source Youth completes first round of Minneapolis funding, raising over $250,000 locally.

We've come a long way toward developing our pilot program for three innovative strategies to end youth homelessness: Family Reconnection, Short-Term Host Homes, and Rapid Rehousing.  Beginning with the pilot in Minneapolis, we plan to scale these interventions nationwide, develop a much needed body of research on effective homelessness prevention for youth, and advocate for massive increases in funding to address this urgent problem.

After a lot of hard work, site visits, and due diligence, we're pleased to announce that our first round of local fundraising has gone exceptionally well.  Point Source Youth and our partners -- RECLAIM, The Link, and Avenues for Homeless Youth -- have together raised over $250,000 of local funding towards our pilot program, including over $75,000 from local individuals and foundations and over $175,000 from Hennepin County in the form of SHIF Grants to our partners Avenues for Homeless Youth and The Link.  We'd like to extend a special thanks to the following funders:

  • Hennepin County Supportive Housing Initiative Fund
  • The Arise Project of the Greater Twin Cities United Way
  • Angie Craig and Cheryl Greene
  • Charlie Rounds and Mark Hiemenz
  • John Sullivan
  • Milo Pinkerton and Virgil Taus
  • Adam Jones

We are tremendously grateful to each of you for your support.  We are now well on our way to funding the pilot, and your contributions are making it possible.  The funds raised so far will enable us to finalize our intervention designs and research plan and to begin hiring additional staff, including two case managers and a full-time counselor.

A second round of fundraising is underway, and we are looking forward to announcing some good news about grants from the federal government and national foundations.  In the mean time, we are continuing our work on the pilot logistics and research protocols and will share more about those shortly.

A huge thank you, again, to all of our supporters, and especially to our local organization partners.  It's incredible to see such a vibrant community coming together around this project.

Larry Cohen
Ronald Johnson
Colin McSwiggen

Directors, Point Source Youth

Minneapolis Pilot; First Controlled Study on Rapid Rehousing for Youth

Hello friends, supporters and collaborators,

This is the first of the updates that we'll be putting out periodically to keep you in the loop about what we've been up to.  We have two major announcements to make:

  • Our Minneapolis pilot program for 2016, and
  • The partners who we'll be working with to deliver interventions on the ground in Minneapolis.

The goal of our organization is to dramatically reduce the rate of youth homelessness throughout the US, and to lessen the harms suffered by youth who do become homeless.  We are especially concerned with improving the situations of LGBTQ youth and youth of color, who experience homelessness at disproportionately high rates relative to the general population.  We believe that we can achieve this goal by implementing three innovative interventions at scale: family reconnection, time-out housing, and rapid re-housing.

We're currently working with leading academics and service providers to design a pilot program in Minneapolis, with three goals:

  • To end or prevent homelessness for the youth who participate in the program;
  • To produce controlled, scientific research on the effectiveness of these interventions; and
  • To develop a model that we can use to scale the program to other cities and advocate for increased funding for services for homeless youth nationwide.

As part of the pilot, we're especially excited to be able to perform the first ever controlled study on rapid rehousing for youth.  HUD recently released a number of case studies on rapid rehousing for younger populations, and we're thrilled to have the opportunity to build on this research and take it to the next level of rigor.

After a great trip to Minneapolis last week, we're happy to announce that we'll be partnering with three amazing organizations in the Twin Cities area in order to deliver the pilot: Avenues for Youth, The Link, and RECLAIM.  For years, these groups have been doing incredible work to address the needs of homeless, at-risk, and marginalized youth in the Twin Cities, and their expertise will be a tremendous asset as we work to develop and deliver our programming.

Keep an eye out for our next update -- things are moving fast.  In the mean time, feel free to reach out to us with questions and ideas.  Thanks again for your interest and support!

All the best,
Larry, Colin and Ronald