Vulnerabilities by Typology and Housing Outcome: Assessment of Coordinated Entry Items Among Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness In Houston, Texas



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Purpose Despite decades of interventions and targeted resources for those experiencing homelessness, every night in the U.S. thousands of young adults 18-24 continue to live without a home (U.S. HUD, 2020 PIT Populations and Subpopulations). To end this crisis for the estimated three million plus young adults experiencing homelessness (YAEH) each year (Morton, Dworsky, & Samuels, 2017), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has adopted the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Framework to End Youth Homelessness (FEYH). The Framework lists permanent housing as critical for ending the experience of homelessness for these young people (USICH, 2013). FEYH also notes the vital need for improved data on the vulnerabilities which may characterize specific service needs among YAEH (USICH, 2013, FEYH, ppt., pg. 2, 4). HUD also requires local communities to prioritize limited Supportive Housing Program (SHP) resources for those most vulnerable through a central intake process known as Coordinated Entry (U.S. HUD, 2015). Methods This study attempted to contribute to improved data by exploring vulnerabilities reported by YAEH at entry to HUD SHP on a Coordinated Entry tool in Houston, Texas between June 2016 and November 2018. The tool was a unique instrument created and adopted by Houston Continuum of Care (CoC) for young adults, ages 18–24, and was informed by research indicating life events associated with young people’s vulnerabilities for experiencing homelessness, experiencing prolonged homelessness, and compounded risks while experiencing homelessness (USICH, 2019) (U.S. HHS, 2017). Latent class analysis and syndemics was used as the conceptual framework to improve understanding of combinations of vulnerabilities among subgroups of YAEH. Vulnerabilities captured by the tool included time spent experiencing homelessness, juvenile detention, child welfare, adult detention, abuse as a child, family violence, LGBTQ kicked out by family, substance use, mental health challenges, educational achievement, unstable employment, having children, trafficking risk, and lacking adult support. Findings Lacking adult support (both emotional and financial) and levels of vulnerabilities were differentiating factors among three subgroups of YAEH identified through this analysis. The highest vulnerability lowest support subgroup was the largest of the three identified groups of YAEH and the most likely to have been housed through HUD SHP; however, only temporarily housed by exit (i.e., exited to homelessness or unstable temporary housing). Black participants had higher than expected lack of adult emotional support and both black (4.3 times more likely than white participants) and YAEH identifying as gender minorities (3.5 times more likely than male participants) to have been only temporarily housed versus permanently housed at exit from HUD SHP. Lack of adult financial and emotional support were the primary differentiating factors between vulnerability subgroups. Implications Findings can inform future Coordinated Entry processes and potentially different service needs for YAEH at entry to HUD SHP. Patterns of responses indicate YAEH subgroups who may benefit from strategic use of limited resources for those with low vulnerability and high support and higher engagement for those with high vulnerabilities and low support. YAEH would benefit from federal policies differentiating by vulnerabilities rather than as a homogeneous group or broad labels of runaway, delinquent, or homeless. As lacking adult support is often reported and significantly different by subgroups, implementing adult mentors and/or strengthening family kinship in service delivery warrants additional focus and exploration. Future research should continue to build on emerging knowledge of subgroup differentiation among YAEH, further explore the role of adult support in exiting homelessness and perform longitudinal studies to understand experiences and outcomes of YAEH who are not housed through limited HUD SHP (i.e., ‘never housed’).



homeless, young adult, coordinated entry, HUD SHP, vulnerabilities