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City Hall on Oct. 15, 2022. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded an $8.78 million grant to the City of Philadelphia to help end youth homelessness on Monday.

HUD has selected Philadelphia as one of the 17 recipients of the grant, which was awarded through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. It was announced outside of City Hall, and Mayor Jim Kenney, local youth homelesness advocates, and representatives from nonprofits were in attendance. 

The grant "will allow the city’s homelessness services providers to plan and pilot innovative programs designed specifically for young adults 18 to 24 years old," according to Metro Philadelphia

The Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program is designed to decrease the number of youths experiencing homelessness. 

"The goal of the YHDP is to support selected communities, including rural, suburban, and urban areas across the United States, in the development and implementation of a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness," according to the HUD website.

Philadelphia was granted the largest award for individual cities and the second largest overall.

"Addressing this issue requires collaboration at all levels, from HUD and city officials to nonprofit leaders and community members, and this new funding represents a critical step forward in continuing to make progress in Philadelphia," Kenney told Metro Philadelphia.

According to the Philly Voice, young adults who have experienced homelessness worked on part of the application process for the grant.

The new funding will help Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services, alongside its youth advisory board and nonprofit agencies, in supporting a range of housing programs, including rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing. The grant will also fund other services, such as access to good-paying employment opportunities, apprenticeships, and financial literacy classes.

“The YHDP is awarded to communities with a strong record of performance and creativity. We need to be forward thinking about how we serve the unique and special needs of youth experiencing homelessness by designing programs that meet their needs and are accessible to them where they are,” HUD Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Matthew J. Heckles said during the presentation at City Hall, according to Metro Philadelphia.

Since 2018, Philadelphia has reached a 22% reduction in homelessness. Family homelessness has been down by 42%, according to data provided to HUD during the grant application process. 

However, measuring youth homelessness and piloting youth-targeted programs remains a challenge. The city currently funds 29 programs that specifically address youth homelessness and has 387 dedicated youth beds.

“This grant recognizes the unique needs of youth homelessness. These are the kinds of investments we need to break intergenerational poverty, and make sure we don’t leave young adults behind,” Office of Homeless Services Director Liz Hersh told Metro Philadelphia.