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Legislation to Help Youth

Bipartisan Legislation Reintroduced to Help Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness

On August 15, 2023, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 5221) was reintroduced by U.S. Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11), Bill Posey (R-FL-08), Delia Ramirez (D-IL-03), and Don Bacon (R-NE-02).

Most children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness are shut out of homeless assistance because they do not meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) restrictive definition of homelessness. 

Shelters and transitional housing are often full, unable to serve families as a unit, do not accept unaccompanied minor youth, or simply do not exist in too many communities. When families and youth are not able to access shelter, they are much less likely to be eligible for HUD homeless assistance programs.

Unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness fear interactions with authorities and exploitation from older adults, whether in a shelter, on the street, or staying on someone's couch. Families experiencing homelessness are also less likely than single adults to stay on the streets and other outdoor locations, often because they are afraid their children will be removed from their custody. 

For these reasons, youth and families are much more likely to stay temporarily with other people, or in motels — situations that are themselves very unstable, often unsafe, and put them at risk of great harm, including trafficking. They often move between situations and may not know where they will sleep from one night to the next. 

While these youth and families are considered homeless by some federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, they are not considered homeless by HUD. As a result, they are not eligible to be assessed for and receive HUD homeless assistance. Yet the children and youth who are excluded from HUDs definition of homelessness are extremely vulnerable, and are at great risk of continuing to experience homelessness as adults.

The Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA) fixes this problem by aligning federal definitions of homelessness for children and youth, streamlining assistance, leveraging resources, and bringing greater visibility to the reality of family and youth homelessness.

Action #1: Urge Your U.S. Representative to Sign On as a Co-Sponsor of H.R. 5221

Arrange to meet virtually or in person with your U.S. Representative or their staff to educate them about the harms of hidden homelessness and urge them to sign on to HCYA. Invite your community partners to join you! You can find contact information for your U.S. Representative here. If you’d like assistance setting up meetings with your elected officials, please email NN4Y Policy Associate Heather Lavoie at .

If you don’t have time to meet, use this editable action form to send a personalized letter to your U.S. Representative urging them to cosponsor the Homeless Children and Youth Act.

Action #2: Sign Your Organization on as an Endorser of HCYA

Use this form to add your organization’s name to the list of organizational endorsers. Please share widely with your community partners!

Action #3: Share on Social Media

Use this action form  to send a personalized letter to your U.S. Representative urging them to cosponsor the #Homeless Children and Youth Act. @nn4youth #EndYouthHomelessness

The Homeless Children & Youth Act aligns federal definitions of #homelessness for children & youth, streamlines assistance, leverages resources, and brings greater visibility to the reality of family & youth homelessness. @nn4youth #EndYouthHomelessness

Endorse this bill:

And more on this social media toolkit!

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Legislation to Help Youth

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless 2023 Report

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless 2023 Report

How many people are experiencing homelessness in Chicago? In a report released this morning, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) estimates 68,440 Chicagoans experiencing homelessness at the beginning of 2022, the most recent these data are available. This reflects a 2,829-person increase from the previous year—up 4.30 percent. This estimate is inclusive of more than 44,000 people experiencing an often-hidden form of homelessness: doubling up, or temporarily staying with others. 


View the report at


In 2022, Chicago tallied 3,875 people experiencing street and shelter homelessness. The Point-in-Time count tallies people experiencing street and shelter homelessness on a designated night of the year—usually every January. The Point-in-Time count is used to determine which communities receive essential federal housing, transportation, and public health assistance, including COVID-19 relief funds, but this HUD-mandated count fails to account for the way most people experience homelessness in Chicago: temporarily staying with others.  


Homelessness is not one-size-fits-all and there are many ways one person can experience it. Someone may sleep in a shelter, on the street, at a train station, and double up with others all in one week. All these living situations should be considered homeless, and accurately describing homelessness is a first step toward ending homelessness. People experiencing homelessness by temporarily staying with others need crucial homeless services, but until the HUD definition is changed to better reflect the true scope of homelessness, many Chicago families are barred from these federal services. 


Key findings:

  • Black and African American Chicagoans continue to disproportionately experience homelessness. Black and African American Chicagoans account for 53% of all people experiencing homelessness, while making up only 29% of the city’s total population.  

  • Hispanic and Latino/a/x Chicagoans far more often experience homelessness by couch-surfing. Of all Hispanic and Latino/a/x Chicagoans experiencing homelessness, 91% are in doubled-up situations.

  • Unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness are more likely to temporarily stay with others than to stay on the street or in shelters. In 2021, 11,885 people experiencing homelessness were unaccompanied youth (ages 24 and younger), 88% of whom temporarily stayed with others. In total, 3,143 unaccompanied youth and their children (under age 18) experienced homelessness. 

  • Most families experiencing homelessness are temporarily staying with others. In 2020, 24,500 people in families with children were experiencing homelessness and 68% were temporarily staying with others. 

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