London Exchange 2016

I’m participating in the 2016 Transatlantic Practice Exchange through the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Homeless Link UK. From April 18 – 29, I’ll be placed with Depaul UK to learn from them about the great work they do. Specifically, I’ll be looking at best practices for serving youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and to examine the Positive Pathway framework (more here).

More detailed information from my research proposal is below:

Background & Relevance

According to a recent federal report (PDF here), there were nearly 40,000 unaccompanied homeless youth on a single night in 2015, 87% of which between the ages of 18 and 24. The National Alliance to End Homelessness expects that this is a significant undercount and estimates that in a year there are 550,000 unaccompanied youth and young adults who are homeless for more than one week. Vulnerable young people – especially those transitioning from foster care, juvenile justice, and residential treatment – comprise one of the fastest-growing demographics in homelessness.

The reality is even harder for certain subpopulations within this group. Every year, an estimated 1,000 young adults age out of the foster care system in Pennsylvania. These emancipated young adults face a number of challenges during the transition to adulthood, with housing stability being among the greatest. We also know that LGBTQ-identified young adults are experiencing homelessness at an alarmingly disproportionate rate – as much as 40 percent of homeless young adults identify as sexual and gender minorities.

The need is real and profound, but so are the opportunities. Communities in the United States have seen tremendous progress when key stakeholders collaborate and establish a single and comprehensive plan to address specific subpopulations. Most recently, communities have achieved “functional zero” in Veteran’s homelessness by creating broad collaborations that operate using a single plan and priority list to house individuals (and, importantly, when there are targeted resources).

And yet, there is more work to be done for more populations in need. In my own city, Philadelphia has had success using these approaches in addressing chronic and veteran homelessness, but so far there is not a single collaborative plan for young adult homelessness.

Research Question & Learning Objectives

My Research Question: How do Positive Pathway frameworks support a community in developing and implementing a unified plan to end and prevent young adult homelessness and can this framework be effectively replicated in Philadelphia?

My goal is to better understand the UK’s approach to young adult homelessness and the tools and partnerships that are in place to support a coordinated approach, for replication in the US. The following are the Learning Objectives I hope to pursue:

  • Learn best practices from Depaul UK and others for addressing young adult homelessness and for developing a coordinated, community-level approach using the Positive Pathway model
  • Explore how to analyze the scale of the problem and adopt a common definition for young adult homelessness
  • Learn how these frameworks could be implemented in Philadelphia to support a more coordinated community approach to young adult homelessness.



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