June 7, 2024

Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio Receives $2 Million HUD Award to Improve Youth Homelessness Response

The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio was one of 38 organizations in the U.S. to receive new federal grants this week aimed at creating a stronger safety net for youth at risk or experiencing homelessness.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $51.1 million in Youth Homelessness System Improvement (YHSI) Grants across 26 states and territories. COHHIO was the only YHSI grantee in Ohio and one of a handful to receive the maximum $2 million award.

COHHIO’s Youth Housing Initiative Director Amanda Wilson said the application process united a broad coalition of state agencies, regional homelessness continuums of care, and young people who had experienced homelessness around a common goal.

“Together we are committed to reimagining systems of care for Ohio’s most vulnerable youth, including those exiting from juvenile justice and the foster care system,” Wilson said. “With support from HUD’s Youth Homelessness System Improvement grant, we can prevent young people from falling through the gaps in our current systems.”

Most of Ohio’s nine regional homelessness continuums of care joined the coordinated effort. COHHIO’s grant application also received support from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Department of Development, the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce, the Ohio Department of Children and Youth, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Youth Services, and Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services.

“Strong support from our local, state, and federal partners proved that Ohio is serious about ending youth homelessness,” Wilson said. “We appreciate our partners’ willingness to work together to create a brighter future for young Ohioans dealing with so many challenges.”

Youth aging out of foster care have an extremely high risk of becoming unhoused and involved with the criminal justice system. As many as one in four falls into homelessness, according to recent research. And as many as 44 percent of youth experiencing homelessness have been incarcerated.

Youth often have difficulty navigating all the different rules and requirements of the many programs that provide services. COHHIO will use the YHSI funding to coordinate stakeholders in Ohio’s foster care, education, juvenile justice, and homelessness systems to create a more streamlined, equitable, and accessible system for young people in crisis.

As part of this grant project, COHHIO is committed to addressing issues of inequity in the youth homelessness system, including the overrepresentation of Black and LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness across the participating communities. A key part of the strategy involves creating, strengthening, and diversifying regional Youth Action Boards – committees of young people with lived experience to help guide positive change in the systems.