On January 31, Governor Baker announced funding to help end youth homelessness through grants to local providers and a new housing pilot to support homeless youth and to help connect them with education, employment, and housing supports and services. In total, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $3 million in funding to ten community partners throughout the state will help youth and young adults with the supports they need to prevent or end homelessness.
CHAPA helped to advocate for increased funding in the FY2019 state budget for the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth line-item (4000-0007), which supported these grants. Working with our advocacy partners, including Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, leaders in the Legislature, and with support from Governor Baker, funding for the line-item was increased from $675,000 in FY2018 to $3.3 million in FY2019.
In Massachusetts, it is estimated that there are at least 1,800 young adults every year who experience homelessness. The 10 community partners will address youth and young adult homelessness in a variety of ways, targeted to meet the specific demographic and geographic needs of each region. Funds can be used for housing, transportation, education and case management support. Each region has developed a winter response for youth who are without housing during the cold months as well as specific strategies to address the unique needs of undocumented, unaccompanied youth.
Unaccompanied homeless youth include students who are enrolled in the state’s colleges and universities. An online survey done in 2017 at a majority of the state’s public campuses found that 13 percent of Massachusetts community college students reported experiencing homeless in the previous year. Many said that they did not know where they were going to sleep, even for one night, or had been thrown out of their homes. At the state’s public four-year colleges and universities, 10 percent reported being homeless in the past year, according to the survey.
As part of the award announcement, Governor Baker announced a pilot to work with community colleges and state universities to implement a program to give students a stable place to help them thrive academically and have access to the necessary supports in their own communities that will help them continue their path to self-sufficiency. The $120,000 pilot program will provide housing opportunities to homeless students at Bridgewater State, Framingham State, and Worcester State universities and at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, with more funding expected in the next budget. Students will be provided with a secure place to live, guaranteed meals at the campus dining halls, and more support, such as mental health counseling, with the aim to help boost academic success and, ultimately, ensure that these students graduate.
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Awardees:
- Community Action Pioneer Valley - $325,000
- City of Springfield - $316,089
- L.U.K. Crisis Center - $325,000
- Catholic Social Services of Fall River - $300,000
- County of Barnstable - $232,841
- Father Bill's and Mainspring - $300,000
- Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development - $325,000
- Community Teamwork - $325,000
- South Middlesex Opportunity Council - $272,340
- Bridge Over Troubled Waters - $325,00
Description of Student Housing Security Pilot:
The pilot will provide dorm rooms to homeless students attending community college. The Pilot launched at the following four campus sites earlier this month in partnership with a local community colleges:
- Bridgewater State University & Massasoit Community College
- Framingham State University & MassBay Community College
- Worcester State University & Quinsigamond Community College
- UMass Lowell & Middlesex Community College
Each of the four-year institutions will make up to five beds available for students experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. To participate students must be:
- Enrolled full-time in a public college or university participating in the pilot.
- Degree-seeking and in good academic standing as defined by home institution.
- Age 25 or younger.
- Referred by campus staff or community service provider, or self-applied.
Campuses will be reimbursed by the state for the cost of the dorm bed occupancy for an 18-month period, for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2020, including all summer and semester breaks. Campuses will cover the cost of providing meals and snacks for students, with support from local service providers where available.