Jan 30, 2024 - News

Cuyahoga County unveils plan to end youth and young adult homelessness

A young Black man speaks at a transparent lectern with Cuyahoga Community College wordmark behind him.

Alonzo West shares the vision of the county's new "REACHing for New Heights" plan. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

The Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services and a host of nonprofit service providers On Monday announced a plan aimed at eradicating youth and young adult homelessness locally within three years.

Driving the news: A $3.9 million renewable grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will fund the plan, which includes two key initiatives to provide stable housing and to help young people navigate available resources.

Why it matters: Roughly 500 youth and young adults seek homelessness services in Cuyahoga County every year.

  • The plan, dubbed "REACHing for New Heights," was developed in consultation with young people with lived experiences of homelessness.
  • Many of the action items in the plan include centering youth and young adult voices within the county agencies that provide homeless services — what's called the "continuum of care."

What they're saying: "This plan represents the vision, perspectives and hopes of young people in Cuyahoga County, who led the effort to re-imagine a better system of support," Melissa Sirak, director of Cuyahoga County's office of homeless services, said in a statement.

Details: The HUD grant will fund two programs, both led by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry.

  • The Transitional Housing-Rapid Rehousing program will add more than 60 safe, stable housing units for young people under the age of 24 for up to 36 months.
  • Another program will fund six "navigators" to provide outreach and support to young people as they access resources.
  • Plus: As part of the grant, HUD will also provide technical assistance in the plan's implementation.

The bottom line: "What I clearly picture is a future where youth and young adults aren't afraid of what it is to transition into adulthood, where they can bloom into the beautiful, powerful forces of change that they were meant to be," Alonzo West, a member of the REACH Youth Action Board, said at an event Monday.

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