There are more than 7,000 homeless New Yorkers 24 years old and younger, though the city’s yearly count admits this is an imperfect estimate. It’s difficult to get an accurate number on youth homelessness, to find and then to reach out to these New Yorkers with resources.
To better inform the city’s next steps when it comes to helping this community, New York City is launching its first Youth Homelessness Task Force.
“Building on existing initiatives, this work group will put forth new ideas to prevent youth homelessness, while ensuring that those who are in our care have the ability to leave with the appropriate resources to live healthy and productive lives,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, in a statement.
The task force is made up of 15 city agencies, 26 nonprofits and 10 youth leaders from the Youth Action Board, and will develop a plan to inform the city’s next steps for preventing and ending youth homelessness.
That plan will be informed by a six-month community process spearheaded by the Youth Homelessness Task Force.
“Giving all young people an opportunity to succeed is our top priority in New York City — and for youth facing homelessness, that means providing dedicated spaces, resources, and programming that will help them stabilize their lives in a safe and supportive environment,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks in a statement.
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The task force builds on other efforts by the city to prevent and end youth homelessness. In March of this year, City Council passed legislation allowing homeless young adults to stay in shelters until they are 24 years old. Previously, the max age for a homeless youth shelter was 21.
In September, First Lady Chirlane McCray announced the NYC Unity Project, specifically focused on serving LGBTQ homeless youth. The city’s first-ever LGBTQ youth homeless shelter opened in the Bronx in 2017.
“Having a place to live is a basic human right,” McCray said in a statement with the announcement of the task force. “If we are to truly help New York youth reach their full potential and contribute their talents and energies to our city then we need to find some new solutions to the homeless problem."