‘Young, Unhoused and Unseen’ | Episode 1: The money

Getting federal funding to address youth homelessness is predicated on the success of Philly’s programs over the next two years.

Listen 26:31
Liz Hersh sitting at a table with papers

Liz Hersh, the former executive director of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services, breaks down the city's Coordinated Community Plan, which has the goal of making young adult homelessness 'rare, brief, and non-recurring.' (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

This episode is from Young, Unhoused and Unseen, a podcast production from WHYY News and Temple University’s Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting.

Find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Young, Unhoused and Unseen,” the podcast and multimedia project produced by WHYY News and Temple University’s Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting, examines youth homelessness in the Greater Philadelphia region and explores solutions to address the epidemic.

Awarded an $8.8 million grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2022, Philadelphia wants to bolster services for its unhoused youth. Some city officials are optimistic it could represent light at the end of the tunnel. If the city can find an effective solution to youth homelessness, could it find a more permanent fix?

For eight months, roughly 40 members of the Philadelphia Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) worked together to make young adult homelessness “rare, brief, and non-recurring.” The April 2023 Coordinated Community Plan, created by the youth for the youth, has been adopted as a roadmap to reducing the problem.

But finding solutions won’t be easy. Homelessness looks different for young people than it does for older adults. The population of young people experiencing homelessness is undercounted and fragmented and lacking resources. Getting another round of HUD funding is predicated on another application — and the success of Philadelphia’s programs over the next two years.

Jemine Bryon, HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for special needs, said reducing and possibly ending youth homelessness requires collaboration and continued investments across various systems, including “child welfare, juvenile justice, the education system, both post-secondary education and K through 12.”

“In the case of Philadelphia, it’s yet to be determined whether they are on a good path for ending youth homelessness in X period of time,” Bryon said. “It’s really unknown.”

In this episode, hear from Michelle, a young, unhoused co-author of the CCP, explain the challenges of youth homelessness.

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