Each year, millions of youth experience homelessness across the United States, and they need proven housing models and an array of services and supports to help them achieve stability and independence – all in an effort to ultimately prevent and solve youth homelessness. Covenant House International, National Network for Youth, and SchoolHouse Connection published this paper to highlight an essential, but often under-resourced, housing model for young people: transitional housing.

“Because of transitional housing I was able to save up to buy my own car, learned how to file my taxes and a lot more life skills. Now I am a business owner with a passion to give back to the community. Transitional housing has helped and support[ed] me to become the best version of myself.”
Member of NN4Y’s National Youth Advisory Council

“Transitional [programs are] a much more stable environment than a motel or the streets. Having a safe place to sleep freed my mom and I to worry about other things and gave us time to focus on work and education. It’s frightening to be homeless on the streets or in a volatile housing situation, and it’s nearly impossible to prioritize your health and well-being when you’re preoccupied with ensuring your survival.”
SchoolHouse Connection Scholar


Transitional housing is a valuable resource for young people who are able to access it, but it is not available (at all, or to all who need it) in many communities. To ensure that all young people experiencing homelessness can access what they need to sustainably exit homelessness and avoid chronic adult homelessness, our organizations recommend the following:

Congress, HHS, HUD, state and local policymakers and human services agencies, and philanthropy should:

  • Ensure that every community provides service-rich transitional housing program options (in some form) for minors, young adults, and young families experiencing homelessness.

Congress should:

  • Deepen its investments in combatting youth homelessness through increased funding of Transitional Living and Maternity Programs and other Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programming.
  • Amend HUD’s definition of homelessness so that the “definition” reflects the lived experiences of youth, young adults, and young families, and young people are not required to stay in tenuous, unstable, and often unsafe situations with other people, adult shelters, or the streets before they can access and are prioritized for appropriate services. (Future Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs) should also reflect these changes.)

HHS/FYSB should:

  • Continue to support its Transitional Living and Maternity Program grantees, and expand these efforts as increased funding allows.

HUD should:

  • Write future NOFAs incentivizing Transitional Housing for youth, young adults, and young families, in accordance with local needs and priorities.
  • Assess youth programs for effectiveness using youth-appropriate outcome measures (through its NOFAs).

Philanthropy and state and local governments should:

  • Support programs that will best meet the needs of young people in their local communities, including transitional programs, rather than tying funding to federal priorities.


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