Housing Stability for Youth

Every young person deserves a safe and stable place to call home. The Raikes Foundation works with young people, multi-sector coalitions, and policymakers to not only respond to youth and young adult homelessness in Washington State and across the U.S. but also to prevent it from happening in the first place.

  • 4.2+ Million
    More than 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness each year in the U.S.
  • 120%
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth are 120% more likley to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.
  • 46%
    46% of youth experiencing homelessness have also experienced juvenile detention, prison, or jail.

A focus on prevention

Each year, over four million young people in the U.S. experience homelessness. Half of them are experiencing it for the first time, including a disproportionate number of youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth. While it is critical to respond to this crisis with urgency, we must also address the root causes of homelessness if we are to end it. By supporting schools to keep young people stably housed, disrupting the youth homelessness pipeline, and implementing early interventions based on young people’s needs, we will end this crisis once and for all.

Ending youth homelessness requires a concerted effort to prevent it before it happens. Half of the adults experiencing homelessness experienced it first as a young person. If we can help a young person avoid that experience in the first place, we’ll see a substantial drop in adult homelessness too.

Paula Carvalho Program Officer, Youth & Young Adult Homelessness Strategy

Preventing Youth Homelessness

Preventing young people from experiencing the trauma of homelessness is one of the key priorities of the Raikes Foundation. When young people have access to safe, stable housing, they are more likely to succeed in school, experience better health outcomes, and be financially independent. In Washington State, the Raikes Foundation partners with young people, non-profit organizations, and public agencies to implement homelessness prevention systems to ensure young people remain stably housed and make sure those who transition from the foster care, legal, and behavioral health systems are connected to safe housing options. We’ve had tremendous success: we supported the creation of prevention action plans at the state level, the implementation of effective interventions at the county level, and now have data showing a reduction in young people exiting systems into homelessness.

Partnerships with Schools
  • Schools are key partners in our efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness. We know that students who do not graduate high school are 4.5 times as likely to experience homelessness than their peers who graduate, and that half of adults experiencing homelessness experienced it first as a young person. By engaging schools, our partners not only help students keep and find safe, stable housing options, but also support them in graduating, reducing their probability of experiencing homelessness in adulthood. The Raikes Foundation invests in strategies that connect schools and housing options, like the Building Changes education program in Washington state, which has seen a dramatic rise in the graduation rate of students experiencing homelessness. We also support Education Leads Home, a national campaign focused on improving educational outcomes for children and youth who experience homelessness.

Immediate Access to Stable Housing

Every year, more than four million young people experience homelessness in the U.S., 700,000 of them are adolescents under 18 years of age. By increasing coordination efforts between schools, child welfare agencies, and health and legal systems, we can ensure every community has a developmentally and culturally appropriate rapid response system focused on helping young people at risk of experiencing homelessness. We work with partners like Community Solutions and A Way Home Washington to ensure communities have the data necessary to quickly match young people’s needs with housing options.

Representation Matters

Preventing and ending youth homelessness will only be possible if young people are involved in shaping the policy decisions that directly impact their lives. The Raikes Foundation partners with youth advocacy groups and community coalitions to educate policymakers on issues most pressing to young people experiencing homelessness and collaborates with government entities to ensure funding decisions incorporate a diverse set of perspectives centering Black and indigenous people of color as well as youth who identify as LGBTQ+. We created the Housing Our People Equitably (HOPE) Initiative to learn from young people with lived experience of homelessness and partner with them in grantmaking and leadership development opportunities.

Schools and advocacy

Young adults that do not graduate high school have a 3.5 times higher risk of experiencing homelessness than their peers who do graduate. We work with grant partners, schools, and communities to improve graduation rates and to ensure schools are equipped to help young people have stable housing. We believe the fight to end youth homelessness must also involve a diverse, inclusive advocacy movement, centering young people themselves to work with coordinated community systems to address policies and funding streams as prevention mechanisms.

See our other strategies