In every city and state across the country we are seeing the same alarming and disturbing trend: People of color are dramatically overrepresented in the population of people experiencing homelessness. Here in Seattle, African Americans make up just 6 percent of the overall population, but make up 29 percent of people experiencing homelessness.
In response to this stubborn trend, last week we co-hosted a first-of-its-kind national summit on Racial Equity and Homelessness in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Together, we supported the Center for Social Innovation to bring together state and national leaders and funders from communities throughout the U.S. to discuss how to address these unconscionable trends in our efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
The report, part of Voices of Youth Count, an initiative of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, confirms that youth homelessness is a pervasive challenge across the country, affecting young people in the biggest cities, smallest towns, and everywhere in between. Missed Opportunities reveals that one in 10 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, and at least one in 30 adolescents between the age of 13 and 17 experience some form of homelessness over the course of a year.
Over the past 100 days, community teams in Washington State have been working around the clock to house as many homeless young people as possible. The 100 Day Challenges in Spokane, Pierce, and King counties were designed to generate innovative solutions to youth homelessness by empowering front line staff and disrupting “business as usual,” and I couldn’t be happier to report that the project was a resounding success.
Collectively, Spokane, Pierce, and King Counties helped more than 600 youth and young adults find safe and stable housing in 100 days. That’s roughly six placements a day—nearly 50 percent more than what the 100 Day Challenge teams in Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles achieved last year. And that’s not a knock on those communities, it’s a recognition that we’re learning more and getting better at ending homelessness for young people.