Following two years of preparation, Boston has released its “Rising to the Challenge” plan to end youth homelessness.

In 2017, Mayor Martin Walsh allocated $165,000 to kick off the plan, a collaborative effort between the city, the Boston Youth Action Board, and 280 community members. The team has spent the past year reviewing services available to youth who are experiencing housing instability and how the community could better support them.

“We’ve been working to end homelessness in Boston for some time with Mayor Walsh,” said Courtney Trudell, assistant director for supportive housing. “We started looking at chronic and veterans homelessness first, and had some success with those initiatives.”

Building on already-established partnerships, the city contracted a group of consultants, led by Matthew Aronson and called Y5, to gather data and identify needs to design the plan.

“Homelessness and housing security for youth and young adults was being experienced a little differently,” Trudell said, “and we needed to devote time to planning and resources to make sure we were putting forth housing and resources that would meet the needs.”

The report, available at, states that nearly 360 children and young adults live on the streets or in the shelter system at night in the city, and race and ethnicity appear to play a role in who experiences homelessness.

The report identifies five core outcomes (identification, stable housing, health and well-being, education and employment, and permanent connections) that need to be addressed together in order to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness.

“Working with those with lived experience was incredibly valuable,” Trudell said.

The Youth Action Board, a group of people under age 25 who have experienced housing instability, works to advocate for programs and policies that will help end homelessness and help promote well-being.

“Understanding how the system is working for people, not just on paper, makes the programs and the policies we are working with day-to-day and the effects of what we’re doing real,” Trudell said.

The city continues to work with Boston Public Schools to improve methods of identifying unaccompanied homelessness and to find additional resources.

In July 2018, the city’s work was bolstered by a $4.9 million award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program.

Trudell said the Housing and Urban Development funding is going toward programs that started in October, and the executive committee will reconvene to help implement the priorities identified in the plan, and to continue finding funding and other resources to help.

“It’s ambitious to put out a plan even though we weren’t sure where all the funding is going to come from,” Trudell said. “We do believe the community wants this and will find a way to make this happen.”

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