More than a million youth in the US experience homelessness each year; between 27% and 40% of them are LGBTQ. There is a severe lack of services for these youth, and of the services that do exist, few work to prevent youth from becoming homeless in the first place.
Point Source Youth is a registered 501(c)3 working to implement, research and scale three interventions – Family and Kinship Strengthening, Short-Term Host Homes, and Rapid Rehousing – that successfully prevent youth homelessness in the UK, Canada, Australia, and a handful of US cities. The Point Source Youth Pilot Project will apply the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Framework to End Homelessness in a workable, scalable, and measurable effort to fund and implement these three interventions, with the ultimate goal of expanding the project into a number of localities across the US.
Keep reading to learn more about each of our interventions as well as our research work:
Family and Kinship Strengthening
Homeless youth services in the US do not usually consider the youth's family as a resource. Despite the fact that family rejection and conflict are among the major drivers of homelessness among youth and especially among LGBTQ youth, there is a considerable gap in services aimed at reuniting families and building support and acceptance. More than 40 percent of agencies responding to the LGBT Homeless Youth Provider Survey do not offer programming that addresses family conflict.
Family strengthening uses mediation as well as family and individual counseling to resolve disputes between youth and their families, while also reaching out to extended family members, including chosen family, outside the youth's own household who may be able to provide care and accommodation. Family strengthening repairs family bonds that continue to exist even while the youth has left the home.
Family strengthening works. Indeed, Depaul UK’s Family Reconnection program prevented homelessness in 82% of clients who were referred in 2009, and in a considerable number of cases only three mediation sessions were required to repair the family relationship. Leading policy researchers have championed family strengthening as a critically important measure for preventing youth homelessness, particularly among the large fraction of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ.
Short-Term Host Homes
Short-term host homes are an intervention for youths who have recently run away from home or who are in conflict with their families. The goal of short-term host homes is to provide a temporary, welcoming space for a few days up to one month where the youth can stay outside of their family home, so that they can have space and time to repair their relationships or make decisions about what to do next. Successful implementations of short-term host homes have generally been volunteer-based programs, with stays lasting from one night up to a month; however, other successful implementations have included appropriate and tailored space in existing short-term housing systems. Short-term host homes are a cost-effective and successful model for preventing youth homelessness in a wide range of cases. In Oregon, one study found that the savings for case management and transitional housing programs amounted to $7.45 for every $1 invested.
Rapid rehousing is a proven intervention to end homelessness among adults, by placing the highest priority on providing stable housing as quickly as possible. While short-term host homes provide youth at risk of homelessness with needed short-term support and space for development and family reconciliation, rapid rehousing is a promising intervention for older youth with greater independent living skills who do not, or cannot, reconnect to family or who need more than a month to do so. Rapid rehousing has three core components: housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and case management and services. These three components are combined with an overall “housing first” orientation, where stable housing is provided before other issues are addressed such as substance abuse, trauma and mental health counseling and support, or other individual needs. Youth in rapid rehousing graduate to to independent accommodation or long-term placement with an extended family member.
A critical part of our mission is to build an extensive body of rigorous research evaluating our interventions. Our research work will enable us to continually improve our methods. It will also inform the documentation of our models and best-practices that we will use to help other organizations develop programs of their own. Finally, research is an essential tool in our advocacy with policymakers. We need solid evidence that our methods are both effective and cost-effective in order to achieve a massive increase in resources devoted to preventing and ending youth homelessness.
Our research publications will include evaluations and peer-reviewed studies of our pilot programs in each city; best-practices guides for implementing family strengthening, short-term host homes, and rapid rehousing for youth; and briefs for policymakers on the problem of youth homelessness and how they can help to end it. The evidence that we gather will be used locally and nationally to advocate for continued funding for effective interventions and for addressing youth homelessness generally.
We perform our research in collaboration with a team of leading academics and consultants, including:
- ABT Associates
- Dennis Culhane (University of Pennsylvania)
- Paul Toro (Wayne State University)
- Robin Petering (University of Southern California)