Recovery For All Of Us: Direct Cash Transfer Study To Address Young Adult Homelessness

Published on June 17, 2021, 11:47 pm
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Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Point Source Youth today announced the Trust Youth Initiative: Direct Cash Transfers to Address Young Adult Homelessness (young people age 18-24). The study will provide and evaluate direct cash assistance with optional supportive services to help advance the goal of ending youth homelessness in New York City and build actionable evidence.

New York City youth/young adult-serving nonprofit agencies are encouraged to consider the Request for Proposals announced today for implementing the project’s supportive programming and recruitment processes.

A collaborative team from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Point Source Youth developed the project based on an intensive research and multistakeholder design process. Point Source Youth will oversee and support program design and implementation by local nonprofit(s), Chapin Hall will lead research and evaluation, and UpTogether will manage the cash transfers to participants through its online platform. All three organizations will work together to develop evidence and infrastructure for a scalable policy solution to our nation’s youth homelessness crisis.

The initiative is funded by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, the NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (for evaluation support), the Block-Leavitt Foundation, Melville Charitable Trust, Robin Hood Foundation, and the NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness, a funder collaborative that is hosted by FJC – A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds. It also involves collaboration with multiple agencies, including the Office of the Mayor, the Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence (CIDI), the Continuum of Care (CoC) and its Youth Action Board, the Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD), and the Department of Social Services (DSS).

“A Recovery for All of Us requires embracing innovating solutions to our most pressing challenges,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The direct cash transfer study, designed in collaboration with Chapin Hall and Point Source Youth, will help uplift young people and reinforces our commitment to ending youth homelessness once and for all.”

“New York City is the place many young people from towns and cities across the country look to for hope and a home, particularly LGBTQI youth who disproportionately experience physical and mental health challenges, and higher rates of homelessness and unemployment,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the NYC Unity Project and is chair of the Mayor’s Fund. “Today’s announcement strengthens our commitment to provide social and economic supports that are critical to long-term success and stability for young people across our City.”

“Housing insecurity can affect New Yorkers of all ages, and as a City we’re committed to helping young people navigate these challenges with understanding, care, and opportunity,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Melanie Hartzog. “Our new cash transfer program is an evidence-based effort that has the potential to give young adults a foundation to create greater stability in their housing circumstances and build up. I thank all of our partners for working together to prioritize our younger New Yorkers.”

“When young adults are not able to secure stable housing, the economic and personal costs can be significant – leading to public expenditures in shelter and other services, and more painfully, exacting a human toll from those who experience housing insecurity,” said Matthew Klein, executive director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “This cash assistance program was co-designed by young people who have been through homelessness, and we should listen to those who are closest to the problems we are trying to address. Our office is pleased to support this important research, and to help policymakers better understand the potential effectiveness of cash payments to reduce homelessness and help young adults lead more productive, fulfilling lives.”

“Building on the City’s innovative use of cash transfers to provide emergency financial assistance to New Yorkers in need early in the pandemic, we are proud to support this groundbreaking partnership,” said Peter Hatch, New York City’s CoViD-19 Public-Private Partnership Czar. “The Trust Youth Initiative will further our goal of ending youth homelessness and strengthen the evidence base for future investments in direct cash-transfer programs.”

“Young people who’ve experienced homelessness—many of whom are Black, Latinx, indigenous, and LGBTQ—deserve to have their lived experiences be the basis for efforts to reduce poverty and increase employment and education opportunities,” said Daniele Baierlein and Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Co-Executive Directors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “The Mayor’s Fund proudly supports the partnership behind The Trust Youth Initiative and applauds the partners who prioritize the voices of young people as they show us the way to ending homelessness.”

“I can’t think of more knowledgeable experts in finding innovative solutions to the issue of youth homelessness than the young people who have experienced it firsthand. Our funded runaway and homeless youth providers will tell you that young people need an arsenal of supports and tools to effectively get back on their feet and live productive lives. DYCD and our City partners are proud to support Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Point Source Youth and UpTogether in this important effort to help get youth and young adults on the road to self-sufficiency,” said NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner, Bill Chong.

“To address the citywide challenge of homelessness, we must always work together to develop new solutions and interventions,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “This type of innovation has been central to our Agency’s efforts to level the playing field for vulnerable New Yorkers. The Trust Youth Initiative is another example of our City’s continued efforts to find new ways to support the New Yorkers who we serve. As we emerge from this unprecedented crisis and work to build a more inclusive future for our City, we are proud to partner in this initiative, which will help more young New Yorkers in need access opportunity and get back on their feet.”

“In a high-cost housing market, cash is supreme. For young people experiencing homelessness in NYC, over 90% who identify as people of color and nearly 50% as LGBTQ, relying on family or generational wealth to subsidize the cost of rent, in most cases, is not a reality. If the Trust Youth Initiative increases long-term housing stability as we hypothesize it will, NYC will have an opportunity to deliver a new and groundbreaking resource for youth experiencing homelessness, one that gives young people the power to self-determine the most appropriate housing solution for them. The local community working to end youth homelessness and the Trust Youth Initiative partners all played a significant role in making this study a reality and I am excited to see what we learn,” said Cole Giannone, Senior Advisor for Youth Homelessness, NYC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services.

“I am beyond thrilled to announce the Trust Youth Initiative. Young people are experts in their own lives — period. A solution that works to end youth homelessness provides young people experiencing homelessness, especially historically marginalized queer, trans, Black, indigenous, youth of color, directly and unconditionally, the totality of resources they need. We must provide direct cash and youth directed support so youth can exit youth homelessness and can flourish in life,” said Larry Cohen, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Point Source Youth.

“The Trust Youth Initiative represents a major opportunity to build evidence and improve systemic solutions for preventing and ending youth homelessness. Direct cash transfers are supported by a solid international evidence base, and they recognize people’s agency. It’s time to evaluate this kind of support with young people who, for no fault of their own, don’t have the same access to resources for meeting basic needs that many of their peers have during transitions to adulthood. Providing direct financial assistance with supports to young people has the potential to empower them to make investments in their own success while helping to counter racial inequities stemming from legacies of injustice,” said Matthew Morton, Research Fellow and study principal investigator, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Young adults with lived experience of homelessness co-designed the project, providing critical perspectives on how it can help end youth homelessness. In the first phase, 30-40 young adults (ages 18-24) experiencing homelessness will receive $1,250 per month for up to two years. Each participant can make several choices about payment frequency, payment options (e.g., Venmo, PayPal, direct deposit, debit card), and requesting a larger upfront payment to get into housing. Optional services that meet youth where they are at will accompany the financial support. These include coaching, peer support, connections to care, financial coaching, and housing navigation.

The project’s flexible approach aims to improve young people’s stable housing and well-being by providing the means to afford the types of housing they choose and the supports to make investments in their own goals, education, and career development. The collaborative project team will work with youth and NYC partners to ensure that the program’s design and delivery reflect the needs and preferences of youth with lived experience of homelessness, especially Black, Indigenous, Latinx and LGBTQ youth.

A rigorous evaluation will compare the outcomes and experiences of young people in the project to young people who receive smaller stipends for completing surveys and have continued access to services traditionally available, such as shelters and existing housing programs. Subject to funding and evaluation outcomes, after the first year of evaluation, the partners will use initial results to enhance and expand the program and evaluation to significantly more youth. The expanded evaluation will track outcomes with a larger sample for up to three years. In addition to better outcomes for youth, the project aims to produce cost savings through reductions in shelter use, preventing legal and health systems involvement associated with homelessness, and eventually increasing young people’s long-term earnings potential through education and career pathways.

“Connecting young people experiencing homelessness with the proven success of cash transfers is incredibly exciting and we are proud to support this work,” noted Aimee Hendrigan, Executive Vice President of the Melville Charitable Trust. “We believe this is an efficient, effective and scalable model, and are especially pleased that it was co-designed by youth who have lived experience of homelessness.”

“The pathway to stability begins with trust–trust in an individual’s ability to be their first and primary resource. And secondary, the trust of their community and support systems. The cash transfer project may provide that kind of community trust for those like me — Asylum Seekers and those displaced, whom are not fortunate enough to have this kind of support when navigating houseless-ness or are at risk of losing housing in one the most difficult places to find and afford housing in all of the United States. The evaluation and evidence building processes underlying this project have been and must continue to be guided through continuous engagement of those impacted,” said Jha’asryel-Akquil Bishop, Project Consultant and Former Co-Coordinator of the NYC Youth Action Board.

“Without a place to call home, it can be impossible to envision and build a future. Everyone who cares about building a better, more equitable future must care about preventing and ending the crisis of youth homelessness. To do this, we must ensure that all young people, especially BIPOC and LGTBQ young people, have the resources they need to build and share in that future. That starts with a safe and stable place to call home. The NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness is proud to be the anchor funder of this innovative work as we seek to advance racial, gender, and LGTBTQ equity through housing justice,” said John Kimble, Senior Advisor to the NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness.

“Young people experiencing homelessness in New York City know what they need to achieve the goals they have set for themselves and the Trust Youth Initiative builds on that expertise. Designed in collaboration with youth with lived experience, the Trust Youth Initiative is based on a model backed by evidence-based research, making it a truly groundbreaking endeavor that we believe will lead to successful results for youth participants. The Coalition for Homeless Youth is excited to support this project and hope this is only the first step of many the City will make to invest in solutions to end youth homelessness that are informed by the true experts: the youth themselves,” said Jamie Powlovich, Executive Director, Coalition for Homeless Youth.

Lead Partners

Chapin Hall is an independent policy research center at the University of Chicago that provides public and private decision-makers with rigorous research and achievable solutions to support them in improving the lives of children, youth, and families. Chapin Hall partners with policymakers, practitioners, and philanthropists at the forefront of research and policy development in applying a unique blend of research, real world experience, and policy expertise to construct actionable information, practical tools, and, ultimately, positive change.

Point Source Youth is a national organization dedicated to ending youth homelessness, with a special focus on LGBTQ youth and Black, Indigenous Youth of Color, in 50 cities and towns. Point Source Youth’s mission is to end youth homelessness in partnership with experts, policy makers, and local service providers. PSY helps to fund, implement, and measure proven, scalable, and replicable interventions locally to effectively engage at-risk young people and end youth homelessness. PSY shapes these interventions to address the growing needs of homeless youth.

UpTogether (formerly, the Family Independence Initiative) highlights, accelerates, and invests in the initiative people in financially under-resourced communities are taking to improve their lives. As a community, a movement and a platform, we use the power of information—compelling data and personal success stories—to transform stereotypes, beliefs and policies. Together with our partners, we are championing a community-led movement to boost long-term economic and social mobility for people and communities that have been undervalued for far too long.

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