Funders Together CEO, Amanda Andere, attended the White House Policy Briefing on Youth Homelessness held on June 3rd and walked away with some key action items in order to leverage the momentum of those partnering to end youth homelessness.
Last week at the White House Policy Briefing on Youth Homelessness, we heard from youth experiencing homelessness about their journey and ways they thought the Federal Opening Doors plan was effective. Several speakers after them said, well, we can all go home now.
They were so courageous, passionate, and knowledgeable about what worked for them. They spoke to where the system needed improvement, and how they were working to ensure other youth didn’t have to experience homelessness – we can all go home now! That is our collective goal.
As I listened to their stories I saw pieces of myself. While I can no way relate to the economic barriers of their stories. I am women of color, an immigrant, daughter of immigrants, grew up middle class, but my Dad lost his job my senior year of high school, and it could have caused our family to spiral. I started to ask, “Why not me?” My family faced some of the same personal or potential system barriers, and yet we never experienced homelessness. Why? Because we had a community. A safe place to fall and to succeed.
Last week was also the launch of A Way Home America (AWHA), which is not another organization, but rather an initiative. A movement. That all so important community. Funders Together is on the leadership committee and proud that some of the impetus for this initiative started with our Foundation for Youth Success community of practice. AWHA is unique in that it includes the involvement of over 50 different organizations addressing youth homelessness. Federal partners are engaged and at the table, including the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness which leads the coordinated federal response to homelessness and its member agencies.
We must work together to leverage this momentum. In the coming year we will:
- Learn from and authentically engage young people who have experienced homelessness about how to solve the problem.
- Identify actions and policies necessary to eliminate youth and young adult homelessness. We’ll then be able to speak in a collective voice about what is needed.
- Accelerate our efforts in local communities by launching 100-Day Challenges that set ambitious goals for housing homeless youth and by sharing successful outcomes for replication nation-wide.
- Elevate the issue of youth homelessness nationally.
A community committed to do things differently through collective action, so we can ALL go home now.