On Thursday, October 3, Funders Together to End Homelessness attended a “Stakeholder HUDdle” meeting with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Secretary Ben Carson.
The in-person meeting was proposed as a round table opportunity for housing and homelessness advocates, including some of our national partners such as National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) and A Way Home America (AWHA), to give insight to HUD's questions about practices and solutions to ending youth and young adult homelessness.
Given current developments with the Administration’s proposed federal intervention on homelessness and at the encouragement of the young adult leaders with lived expertise, we felt it important to attend. Our hopes were that Funders Together’s participation would give voice to philanthropy’s priorities and values around ending youth and young adult homelessness, support the shared messaging and goals of the young adults and national partners in the room, and reinforce the need for evidence-based practices and solutions.
During the meeting, we made clear our position opposing HUD’s harmful policies like changes to the Equal Access rule and the proposed “mixed status” families rule because we believe community responses to youth homelessness must be safe and inclusive for all young people. HUD’s revision of the Equal Access rule weakens protections for transgender young people--who face vastly disproportional rates of homelessness and violence--makes this work harder and makes young people less safe. We also expressed our concern about the recent White House Economic Council report on homelessness.
“We want to make clear that homelessness is not a failure of people, so it will not be solved by fixing people,” Funders Together CEO Amanda Andere said in the meeting. “It is the result of structural inequities, and our country’s failure to make affordable housing a priority.”
The most hopeful dialogue in the meeting was the centering of young adults with lived expertise because of their experience with homelessness. Members of the new A Way Home America Young Adult Leadership Body and the National Youth Forum on Homelessness made clear that HUD must continue and learn from the authentic young adult collaboration that has happened with grants like the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project. They used their voices not to tell their story, but share how their story has shaped concrete policy recommendations for HUD and Congress. They were clear in their support of Housing First, programs that are low-barrier, and letting young people define their own path to success while in stable housing.
We had hoped for a more robust conversation around best practices and the importance of continuing to partner with the career staff at HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) on collaborating in the work to end youth and young adult homelessness. However, we felt the conversation was overall a positive opportunity to voice both concern about current developments and be a champion for evidence-based solutions.
We look forward to engaging in more opportunities with HUD to vocalize the core principles of the Funders Together network and our partners. We are dedicated to pushing our federal partners to support and align on advancing racial equity, supporting young people with lived expertise, and investing in evidence-based solutions through public-private partnerships.
You can also read a statement from our partners, A Way Home America, here.