Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland and its partners at A Place 4 Me, specifically Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services and FrontLine Service, are supporting a new pilot effort to track youth homelessness data across the United States. Launched December 1, the pilot includes a dozen communities nationwide that the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness identified as leaders in the work to prevent and end youth homelessness.
In February 2018, USICH released revised criteria and benchmarks for achieving the goal of ending youth homelessness. According to USICH, these benchmarks reflect the understanding that housing, schools, and youth service providers—among many others—must work together to meet the unique and diverse needs of youth experiencing homelessness.
Home, Together: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, was issued in July 2018 and builds upon strategies and actions taken across multiple administrations and upon the previous federal strategic plan.
Included in this new strategic plan are ambitious goals to prevent and end youth homelessness. To ensure it is doing all that can be done to reach this ultimate goal, USICH is connecting with organizations around the country to help inform their data benchmarks. The pilot groups will track youth homelessness data in their communities to recognize whether USICH’s benchmarks are realistic and achievable.
The pilot, which lasts through February 2019, provides each of the 12 communities the opportunity to inform the development of a final national benchmarking tool.
Cleveland is one of several communities across the country to have previously participated in federal initiatives to end youth homelessness; in 2016, with the support of SOCF, Cleveland participated in a 100-Day Challenge coordinated by A Way Home America, which housed 105 youth in 100 days, and Cleveland has also been a top contender to participate in the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Because of this experience, USICH invited Cleveland as one of its first communities to pilot the new benchmarking tool, recognizing that the community has deeply invested in bringing an end to youth homelessness.
While the data from the pilot program will not be formally submitted to USICH, it will serve as a valuable learning tool, for Cleveland and other participating communities, as well as for USICH, to better understand the gaps and challenges in measuring progress against USICH’s current benchmarks to end youth homelessness.