A Unique Approach to Ending Youth Homelessness in Anchorage and King County

Early last year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced $33 million in funding to ten communities to participate in the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP)—a multi-year program intended to help communities reduce the number of youth experiencing homelessness.

Of the 130 cities across the country that submitted applications, Seattle/King County and Anchorage were 2 of the 10 selected communities. Since then, Pride Foundation staff have been fortunate enough to support both of these efforts.

While this substantial funding is exciting in and of itself, this project serves as an important step toward prioritizing local challenges and opportunities related to this critical issue. Communities have been given a chance to address youth homelessness on a local level using federal funds, allowing cities to more effectively center the voices of local young people who have lived experience with housing instability. It is also an exciting opportunity for our communities to try innovative approaches that, if effective, could be replicated more broadly.

Today, in honor of #TrueColorsDay—a day created to end LGBTQ youth homelessness—we wanted to provide a brief update on the project progress in each of these communities.

In Anchorage, the funding was awarded to the Anchorage Continuum of Care (CoC) group called the Coalition to End Homelessness, led by Covenant House. Pride Foundation serves on the Leadership Committee. Here is a quick snapshot of the progress:

  • At the onset of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, a Youth Task Force was established—predominantly made up of youth who identify as LGBTQ. This group has continued to build capacity and momentum, and they are currently working to develop a strategic plan to guide their efforts.
  • The Leadership Team appointed a Steering Committee that has been meeting monthly, made up of key agency leaders and members of local government.
  • An implementation plan has been developed that outlines priority projects, and a Request for Proposals (RFP) was developed in order to disperse funds to organizations working to address this issue in the Anchorage area.
  • The RFP was released and applications were due last week.
  • The next step is for a select group from the steering committee to score the applications and kick off the funded projects.

In Seattle, the funding was awarded to Seattle-King County’s Continuum of Care (CoC) group, led by All Home King County. Pride Foundation serves on the project’s Youth Funders Group.

Last fall, All Home submitted the Seattle/King County YHDP Coordinated Community Plan to lay the groundwork for implementation and to provide a framework for the various projects that will be funded through YHDP. Since then, the implementation process has begun, including selecting partners to operate the new projects, and submitting project applications to HUD to get contracts in place and programs up and running.

The steering committee’s primary focus has been developing a thoughtful process to ensure engagement of the most vulnerable and historically marginalized groups, and this focus will be carried throughout every level of implementation and evaluation.

Thank you to the incredible individuals and organizations working nonstop to drive the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program forward. Our hardworking and dedicated community partners are important reminders that, together, we can end youth homelessness—in the Northwest, and throughout the country.

Katelen Kellogg is Pride Foundation’s Communications and Outreach Manager. Email Katelen.

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