YOUNG PEOPLE SPEAK OUT ABOUT YOUTH HOMELESSNESS

By/
Steve Volk

MARCUS JARVIS, A JOURNALIST WITH LIVED EXPERIENCE, SHARES THE FIRST VIDEO IN A SERIES ON HOMELESSNESS IN PHILLY.

In a move long-awaited by youth advocates, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will provide $8,779,925 to help put an end to youth homelessness in Philadelphia.

This video report by Marcus Jarvis, a journalist with lived experience of the foster care system, covers the feeling young Philadelphians and advocates have had of finding their concerns, up till now, neglected. And it comes at an important time. 

Over the last month, the city’s Office of Homeless Services has come under scrutiny for its financial practices, spending $15 million more than it was budgeted for over the last four years, yet inflicting severe and painful delays in paying nonprofit service providers.  

Young people in the city say that OHS has also done a poor job of serving them. 

Traditionally, the misconception that young people “choose” to be homeless has led political leaders to fund initiatives targeting more sympathetic populations, like military veterans. But a well-spring of research has shown that young people are forced into homelessness for a variety of reasons, from a lack of acceptance for LGBTQ+ youth to safety concerns, a lack of rental options for young people, under- or unemployment, high rents, and more. 

Research has also shown that many young people who spend time in the foster care system face some period of homelessness later in life.  

Jarvis, in his report, speaks with Rashni Stanford, a longtime youth advocate, about the kinds of youth-specific services advocates have been calling on the city to provide. Advocates like Stanford say young people need services tailored to them. They feel unsafe entering housing shelters, for instance, where older and more experienced people might take advantage of them, and require shelter systems reserved for youth. 

Support and funding for youth specific resources, however, has been a challenge to attain and a subject of tension between the Office of Homeless Services—which says it has funded 29 youth specific programs—and advocates who say more targeted funding is needed. 

This is Jarvis’s first report for Resolve Philly’s Our Kids Vision Hub, a collective of people with lived experience of the foster care system, who provide advice and feedback to Resolve Philly in their ongoing series of stories

Jarvis will be reporting on foster care-related topics for Our Kids, including youth homelessness, throughout the coming year.