Giving Compass’ Take:
• Mindy Mitchell addresses recent data that finds that rural areas experience homelessness more strongly than the popular narrative indicates.
• Mitchell highlights a few proven strategies which advocates could use to help youths experiencing homelessness in rural areas. How might organizations providing services in urban areas expand their efforts into rural locations? How would their services need to change?
• For more proven strategies to fight youth homelessness, click here.
Although people commonly think of homelessness as an urban phenomenon, data … indicates that nearly 75,000 people experiencing homelessness were in Balances of State or Statewide Continuums of Care, a rough proxy for estimating the scale of homelessness in rural areas.
Recently, Chapin Hall’s Voices of Youth Count (VOYC) initiative released its brief on rural youth homelessness. Their research confirms that rates of homelessness for youth are the same in rural areas as they are in urban and suburban areas. It also finds that rural youth have even higher rates of unsheltered homelessness than those in non-rural communities (28 percent compared with 22 percent).
We know that there are some common practices that improve the ability of rural communities to address homelessness for all populations. These include:
Improving Access to Services and Supports
Providers working to end homelessness can team up with with mainstream systems and non-traditional partners who are likely to have greater “coverage” in rural areas.
Enhancing Outreach and Engagement Practices
Expanding outreach is key to finding unsheltered young people and connecting them to housing and services.
Leveraging Religious Congregation
Faith-based organizations can serve many instrumental roles in addressing rural youth homelessness: providing emergency shelter via congregation buildings or in the homes of congregation members, creating supportive and mentoring relationships between rural youth and congregation members, or providing flexible funding to fill the gaps in assistance that the homelessness system cannot.
Read the full article about rural homelessness by Mindy Mitchell at National Alliance to End Homelessness.
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