Opening Doors: Preventing Youth Homelessness Through Housing and Education Collaboration
This article will contribute to the general literature on homelessness by recommending that permanent supportive housing units for homeless children, youth and families provide education services in order to prevent and end homelessness among families, youth and children. I will explain how the legal framework for such housing requires a broad interpretation of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, and assert that federal programs provide a foundation for the creation of such housing. Identifying and educating homeless youth is particularly challenging as the majority of homeless youth live on the streets or in the homes of others, suffer from serious mental and physical health problems, and rarely initiate contact with homeless service providers. Over 1.6 million children and youth experience homelessness in a year, and most encounter barriers to receiving an education. Last year, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness presented “Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness”, which is the first federal plan to end homelessness. This plan has the support and resources of a number of federal and social service agencies and creates an opportunity to implement new solutions that take into account the overlapping causes and effects of homelessness. Since homeless youth have an increased probability of becoming homeless adults, it is important to understand how educational resources paired with affordable housing can provide housing stability and increased employment opportunities for youth. My hypothesis is that improved access to education for homeless youth can strengthen the efficiency and success of housing policies; therefore, implementation of the plan should provide more collaboration between housing and education agencies than is currently included.
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