National Alliance to End Homelessness
Solutions Brief | September 21, 2010
First Place for Youth, based in Oakland, CA, is considered a national model for providing permanent supportive housing for youth aged 18 to 24 who are at risk of homelessness. First Place targets youth aging out of the foster care system and provides them with housing, economic stability, and the life skills to live independently and successfully.
First Place for Youth opened the First Steps Community Resource Center (CRC) in downtown Oakland in 2009. The CRC serves as a central location of First Place’s services for high-risk and homeless youth. The CRC houses services including employment and academic guidance, parenting resources, workshops and crisis support for transition aged youth, as well as HPRP rental assistance and other housing resources.
Since November 2009, First Place has targeted their HPRP resources to help young people remain in their housing or find safe, affordable, and permanent housing within the local market. Applicants who qualify for HPRP assistance develop a housing plan with a case manager. Services can range
from financial assistance with rental or utility arrears to rental assistance in a master leasing program. Every client assisted by HPRP is also enrolled in the supportive services offered by First Place, which include case management, life skills education, employment and education assistance and other services designed to teach youth healthy living.
First Place is part of Alameda County’s Priority Home Partnership, a collaborative effort involving over a dozen nonprofits, public agencies, and city governments working together to prevent and end homelessness. The City of Oakland is the primary HPRP grantee; First Place is partnered with two other youth service providers to administer the HPRP funds.
HPRP is an administratively intense funding source. Understanding the regulations of the grant, the reporting requirements, and coordination of the effort across such a large population has required weekly meetings among HPRP grantees and service providers. Although challenging, such regular meetings have allowed service providers to form meaningful and important connections with each other.
Another challenge is not being able to serve every youth who requests assistance. This initiative has demonstrated the great need of young people in Alameda County.
According to Christy Saxton, the Regional Executive Director, First Place for Youth has met and exceeded their targeted service numbers. First Place for Youth has processed 150 HPRP intakes since November 2009. Not every youth who seeks help can be served, but in partnership with the two other youth providers, HPRP in Alameda County is serving up to 30 youth per month.
In addition to preventing and ending homelessness for transition-age youth, First Place for Youth has leveraged their HPRP dollars to increase awareness of youth homelessness. The First Steps Community Resource Center,
211 hotline, and HPRP assistance are allowing community nonprofits and local governments to go beyond anecdotal evidence and validate incidences of youth homelessness.