Ten recommendations from the West Coast Convening on developing effective Coordinated Entry Systems to link youth to housing resources.
1. Transition Age Youth providers need to be integrated into the larger system of adult housing provision, so that youth are guaranteed to get “fair” access to housing resources.
2. “Youth voice and youth choice” are critical to housing placements. Even once youth have been prioritized and identified as eligible for housing, their preferences for housing type should be considered. Choice is apt to engender successful placement.
3. Youth should be brought into the development of Coordinated Entry Systems as advisory members to the process and mechanisms for ongoing engagement with youth should be created so that youth can inform the process and systems improvements.
4. As youth exit housing from a particular provider in a coordinated system to another provider, this inter-system transfer should not be counted as a negative outcome for the first housing provider. Many moves are typical of young adults who are not facing homelessness.
5. It is important when defining vulnerability for homeless youth, that we do so in developmentally appropriate ways. In particular prioritization efforts focused on vulnerability should be consider preventing future harm.
6. Coordinated Entry Systems for homeless youth need to have plans for assisting youth on their first night of homelessness. Perhaps with strong linkages to youth specific emergency shelters.
7. We should limit the number of high-risk/high-needs youth who are placed together into one congregate living situation. Research on high risk youth shows that programs which only enroll high risk youth can encourage anti-social outcomes.
8. We need to act to reduce the number of barriers for youth to gain access to housing, such as limiting the number of legal documents youth need to provide. For example, is a birth certificate and a state ID really necessary or are these redundant.
9. Communities should evaluate their existing stock of youth housing and assess what additional services (social workers, therapists etc.) will be needed if more high risk youth are added to programs that formerly had smaller numbers of high risk youth.
10. Communities need to identify housing gaps and ask for targeted investments into needed areas, for example more rapid rehousing, couples housing, roommate living situations etc.