PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to prevent and end youth homelessness, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced $3,243,754 to help RIHousing provide housing stability for young people across the state. 

The federal funds are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP).  A senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), Senator Reed supported the creation of the program, which is designed to support communities nationwide that are working to develop and implement a coordinated approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness.  In addition to federal funds, HUD also shares the experience and best practices of communities in the program to mobilize communities across the country to work toward effectively ending youth homelessness.

“Every child deserves housing stability and this federal funding will help prevent vulnerable children and young adults from ending up on the streets.  This is a smart investment in the health and safety of children in crisis and helping them find a stable home.  It’s also about working together and building comprehensive systems of care and helping replicate successful programs.  I commend RIHousing and its Continuum of Care partners for working to curb youth homelessness and reduce housing insecurity,” said Senator Reed.  “Breaking the cycle of poverty and youth homelessness takes money, education, job training, safe housing, and more.  It isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but we know it can be done and we want to do it effectively, build on the success, and help more families and communities build a brighter future.”

Rhode Island’s Continuum of Care (RICoC) was one of 33 organizations nationwide awarded a share of $142 million in competitive YHDP funding this year.  The RICoC serves as Rhode Island’s statewide planning body on homelessness, with RIHousing serving as the designated applicant, stewarding the RICoC in the planning and coordination of state and federal resources and policy oversight.

“Rhode Island’s small size offers an opportunity for effective program design and system delivery models that are creative and grounded in best and emerging practice,” said Elizabeth Bioteau, RICoC planner. “There is unprecedented cross-sector commitment to this work—from individuals, young people, grassroots organizations, service providers, and state departments. Since 2016, Rhode Island has transformed from a system with zero dedicated beds available for transition aged youth, to one that is rapidly growing and responding to the needs of youth.”

At the forefront of local efforts are youth leaders from the RICoC’s Youth Action Board (YAB) who work to eliminate barriers, advocate for resources and promote public policy changes and were instrumental in preparing the application for funding. 

“I’m proud and happy that we have had this success, and that we got here by including youth who’ve experienced homelessness. It warms my heart. I’m excited to see what we do next.” Benji Chaplin (he/they), YAB member.

“Being designated as a YHDP site is testament to the power of youth-led collective action,” said Michelle Duso, RICoC member and youth stakeholder consultant. “With youth at the front, stakeholders across virtually every sector have been planning, innovating, and delivering on our shared vision to prevent and end homelessness among youth and young adults in Rhode Island. I’m eager to see how we transform the realities of young people in our communities with this investment.”

“These federal funds will help us achieve our vision for a robust youth-centered system that is sustainable, collaborative, and centralizes the vision, voice, and agency of youth,” Carol Ventura, RIHousing Executive Director. “We thank Senator Reed for his leadership and commitment to supporting the kinds of innovative and strategic efforts to provide the services and support needed to prevent and end youth homelessness.”

This year’s 33 YHDP recipients will use this federal funding to address youth homelessness and work together to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.  Solutions may be tailored to local needs, including funding for housing units, wrap-around services, and keeping children and families safely housed. YHDP will also support youth-focused performance measurement and coordinated entry systems.  Over the next several months, selected communities will work with their youth advisory boards, child welfare agencies, and other community partners to create a comprehensive community plan to end youth homelessness.  The awarded communities will also participate in a program evaluation to inform the federal effort to prevent and end youth homelessness going forward and will serve as leaders on the nationwide effort to end homelessness among young people.