UC Berkeley Researchers Develop Roadmap to End Youth Homelessness in California

April 20, 2019

The Ending Youth Homelessness Catalyst Group of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health synthesized the latest research on youth homelessness and produced two white papers to inform Gavin Newsom’s Strategic Action on Homelessness.  Led by Coco Auerswald, physician, UC Berkeley Professor, and nationally-recognized expert on youth homelessness, the Catalyst Group’s white papers provide evidence-based policy and practice recommendations for service providers, policy makers, and the general public. The two-part response to a call from the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council provides evidence-informed suggestions regarding policies for youth experiencing homelessness.

Part I: Principles and Prevention(link is external) presents eight strategies to ensure that youth homelessness is “rare, brief, and one-time”, and to break the cycle of chronic homelessness among adults and families. These strategies include regional cross-sector engagement of housing, education, health care, child welfare and criminal justice agencies, and the use of youth-specific program evaluation outcomes, and inclusive count strategies. Also recommended is the need to address structural barriers (e.g. racism, homophobia, transphobia), and to engage youth in program development and implementation. The appendix includes additional background information on the issue, reference materials and a screening tool.

Part II: Decreasing the time a youth remains homeless and the percentage of youth who return to homelessness after exiting(link is external) presents research-informed policy actions for the education, criminal justice, child welfare, and health care sectors. These include mandated staff training across all systems that work with youth experiencing homelessness, expanded housing options for homeless youth, mandated youth-friendly coordinated entry systems, expanded eligibility for foster care and transitional services until age 25, mandated substance use treatment on demand for minors and transitional age youth, and linked resources for basic needs within secondary and post-secondary schools.