The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Vermont a $2 million dollar grant to help reduce youth homelessness in the state.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has created a program to assist communities attempting to prevent or eliminate youth homelessness. Earlier this month, the agency announced $43 million would be distributed to 11 entities nationwide. HUD New England Regional Administrator David Tille was in Montpelier on Monday to announce that the state of Vermont will receive some of that money. “HUD is awarding a Youth Homelessness Prevention Demonstration Grant for a little over $2 million to Vermont to support the state’s effort to end youth homelessness. This funding can be used for rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing and traditional housing and to fund innovative programs. The goal of the Youth Homeless Demonstration Program is to support communities in the development and implementation of a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness.”
The grant application was submitted by the Vermont Balance of State Continuum of Care, a statewide effort to coordinate work to end homelessness. Governor Phil Scott noted that Vermont was recently ranked by CNBC as the best state to live in. “However last year we had about 660 of our youth between the ages of 12 and 24 experience homelessness. Through this grant we will develop a coordinated community approach to preventing and reducing youth homelessness. Not only will this support a range of housing interventions it will also provide support to address the obstacles young adults face when struggling with mental health, substance use disorders and poverty.”
HUD has engaged young people who have experienced homelessness to provide recommendations. Vermont State Housing Authority Board Chair Caprice Hover says input from homeless youth is integral to the program. “You really need to hear from the youth you’re serving because they will tell you exactly how they feel. They’ll tell you what they need. The top three things that the kids said was help with employment and vocational support, a stable home to live in and a stable adult in their life.”
Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs Director Bethany Pombar notes that youth targeted in this program, aged 16 to 24, have unique needs. “The trends that we’ve been seeing are that it’s been a steady rate of youth experiencing precarious housing or homelessness across the state over many years and we haven’t quite found the right youth-specific interventions to meet their needs and move them away from homelessness and into stable housing. One of the things we’re really excited about is recognizing adolescent development as a unique time in youths’ lives and this really allows us to create interventions that are specific to their needs.”
This is the second year the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program has been funded by the federal government.
HUD New England Regional Office Public Affairs Officer Rhonda Siciliano explains best practices are being incorporated for future funding. “HUD wants to gather information from those grantees, find out what works best, how we can improve upon the process of ending youth homelessness so that others can learn from this process and hopefully you know recreate these plans to end youth homelessness across the county.”
Nebraska and Washington state also received statewide disbursements. Boston, Massachusetts is the only other New England community awarded funds. The city will receive $4.92 million to coordinate multiple programs serving youth and young adults.