State of Ohio awarded nearly $5.2M to combat youth homelessness

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Initiative aimed at rural parts of state, including Lawrence County

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Husted and Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik today announced the state of Ohio has been awarded nearly $5.2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to spearhead an initiative aimed at combatting youth homelessness in rural parts of the state.

The $5,196,300 award comes from HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, which was created to support a wide range of housing-related programs in impacted communities, including rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, host homes, and more.

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“No child should ever have to worry about whether or not they’ll have a safe place to sleep at night,” DeWine said. “Addressing the issue of youth homelessness is not only a moral imperative but it is also essential for the well-being and future prosperity of our great state.”

“By coming together to tackle this problem in some of our most-vulnerable communities, we are investing in the future of Ohio – a future where every young person has the opportunity to succeed and live up to their God-given potential,” Husted said.

The funds will be administered through the Ohio Department of Development in collaboration with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. Development and COHHIO will use the funding to establish a grant program that will empower communities across Ohio to create innovative solutions for providing their young people with the stable and supportive housing they need.

Selected communities will be required to establish Youth Action Boards, in which young people who have experienced housing instability actively lead local efforts to design, implement, and improve programs and policies to both prevent and eliminate this problem in their communities.

“This is a testament to our state’s dedication to finding creative and effective solutions to complex challenges,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Department of Development. “By helping community leaders provide shelter, support, and pathways to success, we are not only working together to end youth homelessness, but also nurture the dreams and aspirations of young Ohioans.”

The Ohio Balance of State Continuum of Care represents Ohio’s 80 non-urban counties, which are divided into 17 regions. Six regions, making up 32 counties, will be eligible for support through this program, including: Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa, Seneca, Erie, Huron, and Richland (Region 2); Brown, Adams, Pike, Lawrence, and Scioto (Region 3); Portage, Geauga, Lake, Ashtabula, and Trumbull (Region 5); Coshocton, Fairfield, Holmes, Knox, Licking, and Muskingum (Region 9); Marion, Hancock, Hardin, Wyandot, Putnam, and Crawford (Region 11); and Butler, Warren, and Clermont (Region 14).

These regions were selected based on several factors, such as immediate need due to youth aging out of the foster care system, alarming reports of opioid use within some of these communities and the annual Point-in-Time count, which is the number of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January.

According to the BoSCoC, between 194-319 Ohio youth experience homelessness in any given day – with 20-30 percent of those cases being unsheltered. Amy Riegel, executive director of COHHIO, said this funding will go a long way in helping reduce those numbers.

“Youth homelessness too often goes unseen, especially in rural areas where services are few and far between. And many unhoused youth avoid emergency shelters because they don’t feel safe or supported in those environments,” Riegel said. “This collaborative project will be informed by the people most affected – youth that experienced homelessness firsthand. These youth, along with our strong network of partners, will help design new programs that help connect young people to the housing, services, and jobs they need to thrive.”

To date, HUD has awarded YHDP funding to 110 communities, representing a $440 million investment in the prevention and elimination of youth homelessness in America.