2021 CDF Press Release

New Report Demonstrates Effectiveness of Flexible Diversion Funds for Young People At Risk of Homelessness


‘30 in 30’ challenge leads to 86 young people in Pierce, Spokane, Yakima, and Walla Walla counties prevented from entering the homelessness system or diverted out last month


WASHINGTON – A Way Home Washington (AWHWA), the campaign to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness in Washington state, released an eye-opening new report explaining and demonstrating achievements of the Centralized Diversion Fund (CDF) pilot, a program that provides flexible payments made to prevent young people from experiencing homelessness or divert young people from homelessness within 30 days.

The report – The A Way Home Washington Centralized Diversion Fund: Using Flexible Funds to Prevent and End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness in Washington State was prepared for the Schultz Family Foundation, which serves as a key funder of the CDF along with the state Office of Homeless Youth. The report outlines the successes of the pilot program since its launch in August 2020 in Pierce, Spokane, Yakima, and Walla Walla counties. At press time in late May, the CDF had resulted in more than 220 young people finding a housing solution. 96% of people who exited homelessness did not return within three months. More than half were young people of color.

“Ending youth homelessness is not just about helping someone exit homelessness, it requires reaching a young person before they ever enter the homelessness system,” said Julie Patiño, Executive Director of A Way Home Washington. “By spending a relatively small amount of money now, we are able to creatively remove small barriers and end a young person’s housing crisis. In doing so, you save an incredible amount of time and resources later on – but most importantly, you might be saving someone’s life. The Centralized Diversion Fund is also an important tool to ensure young people of color and LGBTQ youth can access the unique housing resources that they need to move out of the homelessness system.”

A diversion fund is a flexible pool of money that can be drawn upon by youth workers in consultation with their clients – in this case, young people experiencing housing instability and at risk of not having a place to live. With the CDF, anyone who works with young people can be trained to administer diversion services, coupled with help for anything that might execute a housing plan, such as acquiring a state-issued identification card, filling out job applications, and applying for student financial aid. The CDF can be used for anything that will result in a young person being housed outside of the homelessness system. Examples include paying for child care so that a young parent can go to work and stabilize their housing situation, paying for a rental security deposit so that a young person can move into a new home, or  countless other creative solutions.

From May 20 to June 20, AWHWA worked with the four Anchor Communities – Pierce, Spokane, Yakima, and Walla Walla counties – to create an additional proof-of-concept for the CDF by launching the “30 Diversions In 30 Days” campaign. ‘30 In 30’ challenged each community to divert 30 young people out of homelessness during the 30 day period, using CDF funds and innovative housing solutions. In total, the communities broke expectations and served 86 young people over the 30 day stretch.

Elisha P., a Homeless Youth and Young Adult Services Navigator for Blue Mountain Action Council in Walla Walla, personally housed 19 people from May 20 to June 20. Elisha said, “As someone with my own experience of housing instability and young adult homelessness, I know that diversion is such a powerful tool beyond monetary measure. The real value is in the conversation that helps build a stronger connection between the young person and me. Connection and trust lends itself to some pretty amazing solutions. I can really lean in and create a space for the young person to share with me who they are and where they want to be. With that knowledge, I can sit in the passenger seat and help them find their own resolution. Diversion funding is what allows me to say “Yes!” when they identify a housing solution and make their creative idea a reality.”

AWHWA’s Anchor Community Initiative (ACI) that created the Centralized Diversion Fund is in the midst of a multi-year effort to functionally end youth and young adult homelessness in the four communities mentioned above – achieving “yes to yes,” where communities are able to stably house every young person experiencing homelessness quickly. Thanks to leadership from Governor Jay Inslee, AWHWA Co-Chair First Lady Trudi Inslee, and legislative leaders, state funding for the ACI was renewed this year for another budget biennium. At the same time, the state’s final budget includes funding to expand the ACI into new communities across the state. AWHWA will make announcements later this year about the future of ACI expansion, along with likely expansion of the CDF.

For more information (non press inquiries) about the Anchor Community Initiative and Centralized Diversion Fund, reach out to Ashley Barnes-Cocke at abarnes-cocke@awayhomewa.org.

May 2021: Letter from the Executive Director

The 2021 legislative session recently ended, and we are thankful that funding for the Anchor Community Initiative (ACI) is in the final budget! This funding total is $8 million– $4 million for pre-existing communities and $4 million for ACI expansion. The funding is ongoing and not one time, which is a remarkable endorsement from the legislature for the ACI model. No young person should experience homelessness, but if they do– we hope that it will be rare, brief and one time. 

Thank you to our champions in the House and Senate– Representatives Timm Ormsby, Nicole Macri, Lisa Callan and Frank Chopp, and Senators Andy Billig, Christine Rolfes, June Robinson, T’wina Nobles and Jeannie Darneille. Thank you to the First Lady and Co-Chair of A Way Home Washington, Trudi Inslee for your leadership and support, as well as to Governor Jay Inslee for ensuring that ACI support was part of his budget from the onset of session. Also, many thanks to each and every one of you who came to our weekly legislative community updates and contacted your legislators. Your support has been invaluable and because of you, the ACI will continue to be stronger than ever. 

In other news, the ACI is making great progress in our original communities of Spokane, Walla Walla, Yakima and Pierce counties. I am very proud of the coaching and data support that our staff are providing to Anchor Communities. I am also proud of the way that the communities continue to show up and find new, creative and innovative ways to respond to systemic inadequacies. Youth and young adults are showing up in many different parts of the work and doing so in partnership with service providers to reduce the number of young people experiencing homelessness. 

Over the last several years, the communities have made amazing progress to reach their goal of ending youth homelessness by the end of next year.

Spokane County service providers doubled housing placements in October and have been sustaining that increase over the past five months. Spokane now has staff dedicated to outreach with system partners (such as schools and behavioral health) to prevent homelessness.

Walla Walla County has diversion resources and street outreach for the first time ever as a result of ACI state funding. They have also started reduction efforts through the use of ‘case conferencing’ with youth and young adults who have been identified by real-time, quality data as experiencing homeless.

Yakima County is collecting SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression) data for all populations to better understand how they can serve the most vulnerable populations. They were also the first to come up with an idea for how to use creative funds to address homelessness for students through A Way Home Washington’s Student Stability Innovation Grants process.

Pierce County has built a custom data transformation tool to enable service providers to more accurately track and use data. They also have the most people trained across their system to facilitate access to the Centralized Diversion Fund (CDF)- a program designed to help young people  get quick access to funds and receive case management geared towards helping them find innovative and unique solutions to housing.

All four communities have improved their data collection and reached quality, real-time data for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, and all have Youth Advisory Boards informing service providers and other professionals.

Through the CDF, 161 youth and young adult households across the four Anchor Communities have been diverted away from the homelessness system since it was launched in September 2020. 

In early 2021, we launched the Student Stability Innovation Grants program to address student homelessness and communities are already using it to serve this population.

There’s more to come over the next two years as our original four communities near their goal, and as we begin the process of expanding to a new set of communities across the state. Thank you for being a part of this journey!

Sincerely,

 

Julie Patiño,

Executive Director of A Way Home Washington

April 2021: Letter from the Executive Director

The last 12 months have been extremely challenging. So many individuals have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. At the center of A Way Home Washington’s work – preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness – we have seen increased barriers for young people navigating an already complex system.

In our four Anchor Communities – Spokane, Yakima, Walla Walla and Pierce counties – we see the impact of COVID on young people, socially, mentally, economically and physically. Distancing from loved ones, not being able to attend class in-person, 6-foot restrictions at shelters and many other emerging policies have had a direct impact on young people experiencing homelessness. We also see COVID’s impact on service providers as they continue to carry out their duties with passion and to provide support to YYA experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

Our public systems have been challenged to be flexible and respond quickly to COVID. Because of that, we hope that LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer+) and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) young people experiencing homelessness are not left to fall through the cracks of these systems.

Even still, we are optimistic about the future. In the Anchor Communities, we are seeing a flood of support from service providers, private philanthropy, and local governments. Youth and young adults continue to show up to Youth Advisory Board (YAB) meetings and Anchor Community Initiative Core Team meetings to provide feedback and input on processes and systemic changes. Our staff have adapted to remote work, and are working hard to assist communities with finding solutions to these complex issues.

We are also encouraged by the news from Olympia – thanks to your advocacy, renewed funding has been secured for the four communities, keeping us on track to reach “functional zero” by the end of next year. It also seems likely that the Anchor Community Initiative will expand to a new cohort of communities, with other counties in the state building upon the resources and lessons learned of the first four.

Because of these efforts, It’s very clear to me that all of us are here and ready to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness by helping Washington reach a “Yes to Yes” system. 

In closing, I want to share a quote from Azia Ruff, our ACI Coaching and Improvement Coordinator. She has said, “If the system isn’t working for youth and young adults, then the system isn’t working.” These words help center me, and keep all of us focused on why we do this work, as we move further into 2021 and closer to our goal of ending youth homelessness in Washington state. 

Sincerely,

 

Julie Patiño,

Executive Director of A Way Home Washington

Zooming Along: The 2021 Legislative Session & A Way Home Washington

We recently received great news for the future of the Anchor Community Initiative – and it’s all because of you. For the past two months, you’ve been organizing, contacting your legislators, and making your voices heard. And our champions in the legislature were listening.

Both the Senate and House have joined Governor Inslee and included an expansion of the Anchor Community Initiative (ACI) in their budgets. It is very likely this will be in the final budget passed by both chambers – with this funding, the ACI can expand to additional communities across Washington.

At the same time, both budgets include renewed funding for the original four Anchor Communities, meaning that the work can continue in Spokane, Pierce, Yakima, and Walla Walla counties. We are on our way to reaching “yes to yes” and ending youth and young adult homelessness in these four communities by the end of next year.

We have only reached this point because of the power of your organizing and advocacy. Every time you sent an email to your legislators, attended a meeting, shared a tweet, or spoke to your community, you were moving ACI expansion closer to reality. Just last week, we were honored to have two rallies attended by dozens of supporters from across Washington who heard from First Lady Trudi Inslee, our legislative champions, and young advocates.

Your input and feedback is one of the most powerful and impactful tools there is in influencing the legislature. So, thank you for using your voice on behalf of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. You made a difference!

While we are celebrating the positive budget news this week, the work isn’t over. There is still a month of legislative session, and we have to keep the pressure on to make sure the ACI stays in the budget all the way to final passage. Now, we can thank our champion legislators and urge them to keep up the fight. Senators Christine Rolfes, June Robinson, Andy Billig, Jeannie Darneille, and T’wina Nobles, and Representatives Timm Ormsby, Lisa Callan, Frank Chopp, and Tarra Simmons deserve our thanks!

If you’re able, send a quick message thanking our champions and urging them to keep up the fight on Anchor Community Initiative expansion in the final budget.

Other updates and thoughts: The 2021 legislative session has been “zooming” along – literally and metaphorically. This being the first fully virtual session, including committee meetings, floor action and meetings with legislators, it has been an exercise in modern technology. Perhaps the refrain, “You’re on mute,” has never been heard so often by so many. 

Also notable about the 2021 legislative session is the incredible impact of the diversity of lawmakers within the body. Having so many legislators who are people of color, combined with the impact of being all-virtual and eliminating barriers to travel to Olympia, has resulted in many more people of color testifying on proposed bills that have informed the debate in a powerfully positive way. Bills such as law enforcement reform, landlord-tenant relations, and adding a progressive capital gains tax have been front and center with the diversity of public testimony being exponentially more interesting and valuable than in years past.

As we march forward these last few weeks of the 2021 session, we do so convinced that the best way to end adult homelessness is to end youth and young adult homelessness. We are building a “Yes to Yes” system in Washington so that when young people say “Yes, I need support,” their local communities can say in return “Yes, come inside for safe housing and a path forward”.  Come join us!  Young people and families are relying on all of US. Thank you for all that you do.

Our 2019 Highlights

Our Executive Director, Jim Theofelis, has dedicated his life to helping young people, as an advocate, a clinician and a leader in the movement to reform foster care and end youth and young adult homelessness. He reflects on what 2019 meant for A Way Home Washington and the movement to end youth and young adult homelessness.

Throughout the year, the A Way Home Washington staff has been working hard to end youth and young adult homelessness. There are community leaders to meet, data to analyze, communities to coach and press releases to write. As 2019 comes to a close, I took a pause to think about what we’ve accomplished this year. I’m blown away by the dedicated, mission-driven people I am proud to call colleagues and partners. In no particular order, here are my top ten 2019 highlights:

1.       The momentum in the Anchor Communities. A year after we launched the initiative, we hosted update events in each community, and we got to see how much the movement has grown across the state.

From Walla Walla to Yakima, all the community updates were full of energy!

2.       A strong team. Our staff has grown to be nine people strong. I’m humbled to work alongside these bright, passionate and hardworking individuals every day. They keep me sharp!

3.       $8.5 million for the Office of Homeless Youth. We joined the voices of advocates around the state who believe in funding the Office of Homeless Youth. Our advocacy paid off when the state legislature included $8.5 million for OHY in the budget, including $4 million for the Anchor Community Initiative!

4.       The passage of SB 5290. Young people deserve services, not detention. I am in awe of all the courageous young people who advocated to pass this bill, and it was an honor to be in the room when Governor Inslee signed it into law.

We presented an award to The Mockingbird Society for their leadership in advocating for SB 5290

5.       Enhancing our public profile. You may have seen a lot more social media posts, blogs and newsletters from us this year. I’m pleased to see us flexing our communications muscle so that more people can learn about our work. Sign up to our newsletter for monthly updates!

6.       Strong partnerships. The Anchor Community Initiative has rallied communities around a North Star, and efforts like the Host Home Coalition have brought together key players around the state around important issues. I’m proud that we can help bring partners together and lead the charge against youth and young adult homelessness.

7.       Young people’s leadership. I’ve always believed that the perspectives and expertise of young people with lived experience are integral to finding solutions. Young people are part of all our Anchor Community teams because without them, we don’t have a movement.

8.       Funding the Anchor Community Initiative through 2022. Thanks to the generosity of our philanthropic partners, we can sustain the infrastructure of the Anchor Community Initiative through 2022. That means that whenever we receive additional funding from the legislature or donors, we can pour that money right into service in the communities.

9.       Convening our partners. In October we had our annual Anchor Community Initiative convening and State Table. Seeing our partners from around the state in one room, putting our heads together to end youth and young adult homelessness, was a true joy.

Taking a page out of Nonprofit AF and adding a cute animal picture from the picnic!

10.   Picnicking with our furry friends. Even though it was a busy year, it’s important that we find time to rest and recharge our energies. I enjoyed spending a few moments of camaraderie with my colleagues at our summer picnic, and meeting their families of the human and canine varieties!

This work we’re doing, it’ll have a monumental impact on the lives of young people. Sustainable change, the type of change that will last for seven generations, is not easy to achieve. When I think about what it will take to end  youth and young adult homelessness, I think about all the courageous individuals and organizations who have said “Yes” to the work. Thank you for all that you do!

Our July Reading Picks

Here at A Way Home Washington, our staff is always eager to learn. We’re always sharing articles, videos and other resources with each other to broaden our perspectives. Here’s what we’ve been reading and watching this month:

Liz’s Pick: Most Common Language After English and Spanish

The questions we ask when analyzing data and the results we choose to visualize shape the stories we tell. This map shows us the most common languages spoken in each state after English and Spanish, providing a different perspective of the United States. Seeing Navajo and Sioux on the map is a powerful reminder that Native cultures and languages are still an important part of our society. 

Erin’s Pick: Can Power Be Anything But Zero Sum?

For our work to be effective, we know that we need to share power and decision-making with young people with lived experience. In his column, Jeff Raikes – one of our important partners and funders from the Raikes Foundation – reflects on how important it is for people with great privilege and power to use it to give people with lived experience a platform to shape solutions.

Sully’s Pick: The Need for Responsible Storytelling

Young people’s personal stories have a lot of power – both to mobilize the community and to shape how the community sees young people with lived experience. To us, responsible storytelling means that young people choose when, where and how they share their stories.

Elysa’s Pick: When They See Us

Family disruption is one of the root causes of youth and young adult homelessness, and it disproportionately impacts young people of color due to systemic racism. This miniseries, based on the wrongful conviction and incarceration of five black and Latino teenagers, portrays how the judicial system breaks families of color apart.

The A Way Home Washington team is complete

A Way Home Washington is happy to announce that we have hired the final two members of our staff. Timothy Bell will be our Lead Coach and Liz Harding Chao will be our Data Manager.

Tim experienced multiple periods of homelessness throughout his childhood before coming to the attention of the Washington child welfare system. After many years and much struggle, he became an advocate, organizing on behalf of youth and young adults. He worked to promote the voices of youth in the policy-making and implementation process before going back to school for a graduate degree from the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.

Liz is an award-winning international researcher, originally from Melbourne, Australia. While in Melbourne she worked as a policy adviser for the Victorian State Government’s Department of Economic Development. Liz’s research and teaching focuses on the intersections between human rights, equity and public policy and centers the voices of those most impacted by injustice.

We look forward to Tim and Liz joining us next week and completing our Anchor Community Initiative team.

Please help us give them a warm welcome!

We have numbers: national estimates for youth homelessness in America

By Jim Theofelis, A Way Home Washington

For years, youth homelessness advocacy has been held back by the lack of reliable data showing the true scope of the problem. Without actual numbers, it’s difficult to determine what we definitively need to solve youth homelessness – and it is solvable.

This week, that changed. The University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall released the first results of a long-awaited study called the Voices of Youth Count. This study provides the first ever academically defensible numbers for youth homelessness in America.

With these numbers, A Way Home Washington and our partners in the state and across the country finally have real statistics that we can point to about the pervasive problem of youth and young adult homelessness.

Some of the key findings include:

  • An estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness in our country in a given year. That’s 1 in 10 of 18-25 year-olds and 1 in 30 of 13-17 year-olds.
  • This is equally a rural and an urban problem.
  • Youth of color, pregnant and parenting youth, and LGBTQ+ youth experience homelessness at a higher rate

Click here to read more about Voices of Youth Count and see the full report.

The national data confirms what we’ve known on the state level. In Washington, youth and young adults are homeless in every county of the state, with about 13,000 accessing homeless services.

Chapin Hall provides many great national policy recommendations that we will be building on here in Washington with the state’s Office of Homeless Youth and our many partners. The recent 100 Day Challenges have shown us that young people will respond to outreach if a community has quality, safe services available, and that a focus on equity is critical given the disproportionate representation of youth of color and LGBTQ youth.

With the results from this study and the 100 Day Challenges in mind, we will continue to be in touch with news about our policy agenda for the 2018 Legislative Session and other new exciting programs. With your help, we can and will end youth homelessness in Washington.

Congratulations to the 100-Day Challenge Teams! Changing Lives and Systems

By Jim Theofelis, Executive Director

This week, I had the honor of joining teams from Spokane, Pierce, and King counties to celebrate the conclusion of the 100-Day Challenges – a collaborative effort to connect youth and young adults with stable housing over a period of 100 days. We launched these Challenges in April because we knew that it was an important moment in time – Washington state was paying attention to youth homelessness in a way it never had before. We wanted to channel this momentum and rethink how we support young people who are struggling.

On August 9th and 10th, teams met in Spokane for the Sustainability Review, an opportunity to mark the end of the Challenges and look ahead beyond Day 101 – ensuring the good work that was done will continue to deliver real results for Washington’s youth.

I am so proud of the dedication and courage that the 100-Day team members displayed, and the remarkable local leadership that supported the teams’ work in each region.

Altogether, teams housed 615 young people across the three communities.

  • In Spokane, 109 youth and young adults were connected to housing, with a focus on those who face substantial barriers.
  • In Pierce County, 176 youth and young adults found housing options, many who are disproportionately affected by homelessness, including young people of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+.
  • In King County, 330 youth and young adults were aided in finding housing – the most in any Challenge to date across the country. Seventy-six percent of those housed were young people of color and/or identify as LGBTQ+.

You can find more information and dashboards charting the teams’ progress throughout the 100 days on our website. These data-rich dashboards allowed each team to track progress toward the milestones they set for their region.

When the teams came together to launch the Challenges in April, they intentionally set ambitious goals for how many youth and young adults they could house in 100 days. And they accomplished so much – forever changing the lives of 615 young people in Washington. But beyond the numbers, the core of the Challenges was the tremendous willpower and collaboration of these mission-driven and talented teams.

Here are just some of the top takeaways from the incredible work of our teams:

  • Teams from each of the three communities included young professionals who will become the next generation of system leaders.
  • All three teams brought in the ideas and perspectives of young adults who have experienced homelessness.
  • Each community experimented with new practices or changing policies and practices to remove barriers. Pierce County nonprofits, for example, provided phones to young people so they could be alerted when a bed became available, while also providing a stable mechanism for communication.
  • Communities focused on reaching, engaging, and supporting young people who face some of the hardest barriers, including youth of color and LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) youth – and they made great progress against this objective.

The teams’ work transformed lives and will go far in learning how to improve systems and processes so that all young people can find their way home.

I spoke with a young woman from King County who had previously found housing, but it was not the best fit, and she was worried about ending up homeless. She engaged with a local Host Home program and was connected with a safe, stable home. In Pierce County, a young man who had been suffering from addiction and mental health issues was aided by peer outreach workers who helped him find safe housing and begin his path to recovery. In Spokane, a young woman was connected to permanent and stable housing after spending much of her life cycling through foster homes and dealing with the effects of verbal and physical abuse (the Spokesman-Review chronicled her story in a recent article).

These stories are only a small sample of the deep and meaningful affect teams had on their communities throughout the Challenges.

In addition to the people and organizations that made up the three teams, these Challenges wouldn’t have been possible without the Rapid Results Institute, who provided coaching and mentorship, and the Raikes Foundation and Schultz Family Foundation, which offered financial support. I can’t thank them enough for believing in our teams and our mission and for being such fierce champions over these 100 days.

Beyond the hundreds of young people who were housed over these 100 days, lessons learned and insight gained during the Challenges will inform the path forward to ensure every young person has a safe and stable place to call home. A Way Home Washington will be sharing more detailed analysis and findings from the 100-Day Challenges later this fall.

Together, we CAN prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness in Washington state – and these 100 days proved progress is real and happening across this great state. Let’s continue the momentum so all of Washington’s young people can find their way home.

New 100-Day Challenge Dashboards Provide a First Look at Progress

By Jim Theofelis, Executive Director

A young woman living on the streets in Spokane shared with me recently that most young people experiencing homelessness are trying hard to find stability and safety in their lives. They are not choosing to be homeless, but rather are searching for resources. Over the course of 100 days, three regions in Washington state—including the Spokane area—are working hard and smart to address the barriers that prevent youth and young adults from finding housing.

When Spokane, Pierce, and King counties kicked off the 100-Day Challenges in April, many people couldn’t have imagined the incredible progress their teams would be making across Washington state—from starting conversations and changing systems, to improving the lives of young people in each community.

The King County, Pierce County, and Spokane teams are already changing lives and making a real difference. By helping young people experiencing homelessness find safe and stable housing, local leaders are sending a signal that communities CAN take ownership and turn the tide on youth and young adult homelessness.

At the start of the 100-Day Challenges, on April 20, each team set a specific goal. These challenges were audacious, but attainable. We knew we weren’t going to solve homelessness in 100 days, but we pushed ourselves instead to ask what’s possible and examine how we could do things differently to expedite progress and support and empower our young people.

As we pass the halfway point of the Challenges, we are excited to share initial region-specific and aggregate data from the three teams. Dashboards that provide a snapshot of each team’s goal and progress can be found here, on our 100-Day Challenges page. Currently, these dashboards include data up to Day 50 of the Challenges, and they will be updated periodically through early August.

Each team is putting in the hard work to finish strong, and we anticipate even greater momentum over the remaining weeks. In fact, the Rapid Results Institute—the organization coaching our teams—has found that the first 50 days of other challenges are often spent laying the foundation necessary to accelerate progress over the final 50. I am thrilled about the advancement each team is making toward its numeric challenges. And I’m even more encouraged by the ways in which they are examining—and in some situations actually changing—system policies that remove barriers and get more young people housed more quickly.

We also know that the 100-Day Challenges are about so much more than the work communities are accomplishing over the course of nearly four months. This is really about where we go on Day 101 and thereafter. That’s why we’re excited that conversations are happening about why young people become unstably housed in the first place, and how we can empower them to overcome those experiences. And everyone—at the provider, policy, and public level—is learning that it is possible to prevent and end youth homelessness in our state.

I’m so proud of these three communities for saying “Yes” to their challenges. At A Way Home Washington, we envision a future in which a young person who says, “Yes, I want help finding a safe place to sleep,” or a family that says, “Yes, we want help to keep our teenager safe,” our communities will have the systems and services in place to respond with an enthusiastic “Yes!” and meet those needs.

These 100-Day Challenges are an important step in that direction, and I hope you’ll continue to support our teams so that ALL youth and young adults in Washington state can find their way home.