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CEO Communique: Changing the Definition of Homelessness

Publish Date: November 4, 2019


November is Youth Homelessness Awareness Month. Pathfinders is committed to keeping our supporters informed throughout the year on critical issues impacting the youth we serve, but this month especially, we’re speaking up to raise awareness of urgent issues that directly affect our young people.

It may surprise you to know that the way the federal government “counts” homeless individuals vastly underestimates the number of children, youth and families experiencing homelessness in our country. This piece, “HUD is Undercounting the Homeless Children in America,” highlights the clear consequences of using restrictive definitions of youth homelessness.

Pathfinders has long advocated for a more inclusive and realistic definition of homelessness that reflects the lives and experiences of youth and families who struggle with housing instability. Couch-hopping or sleeping on a different floor each night still means that youth do not have a safe and stable place to call home. HUD’s current definitions limit the eligibility and availability of supported housing resources for the majority of youth we serve.

Simply put – you can’t end homelessness without access to affordable housing and support services. Pathfinders calls for definitions of homelessness that align housing resources with the true needs so we can more effectively respond to some of our community’s most vulnerable young people.

Pathfinders urges everyone who cares about youth homelessness to contact your elected officials and voice your support for the Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA), which updates HUD’s definitions of homelessness, incentivizes local innovations and improves data collection.

Want to help youth experiencing housing instability more immediately? With the quick turn of the weather, we need new (or gently used) gloves and winter coats of all sizes for youth and young men and women.

Thank you so much for your ongoing support of Pathfinders.


Tim Baack
President & CEO

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