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Federal grant expected to address Ohio youth homelessness

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(The Center Square) – A group focused on homelessness and affordable housing in Ohio plans to spend $2 million in federal taxpayer money on youth who age out of the foster care system.

The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio believes those young adults pose a greater risk of being homeless and becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

The money is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $51.1 million Youth Homelessness System Improvement grants to 38 communities in 26 states, Puerto Rico and Guam.

The coalition’s Youth Housing Initiative Director Amanda Wilson said the Ohio effort used a group of state agencies, regional homelessness groups and young people who experienced homelessness.

“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.”

The coalition cited recent research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that shows as many as one in four youngsters aging out of foster care fall into the criminal justice system, and as many as 44% of youth experiencing homelessness have been in jail.

Ohio’s project is expected to bring groups together in Ohio foster care, education, juvenile justice and homelessness to streamline the process for young people.

The grants are designed to:

• Create and build capacity for Youth Action Boards.

• Establish regional committees to direct efforts across multiple systems, including education, justice, and child welfare.

• Collect and use data on at-risk youth and youth experiencing homelessness.

• Develop strong leaders within a community.

• Improve the coordination, communication, operation, and administration of homeless assistance projects to better serve youth, including prevention and diversion strategies.

“We know that preventing and ending youth homelessness takes a full community effort that requires support from all of our partners,” HUD interim Secretary Adrianne Todman said. “HUD’s YHDP and YHSI grants will provide communities with necessary funding to address this issue head on and help build more seamless systems to help youth find stability, opportunity, and success.”

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