Welcome to the California Homeless Youth Project

About the California Homeless Youth Project

The California Homeless Youth Project (HYP) is a research and policy initiative of the California Research Bureau (CRB).  The project is committed to bringing youth to the policy table and to informing policymakers, opinion leaders, and other stakeholders about the needs of unaccompanied homeless youth. Funding for the project is provided by The California Wellness Foundation and the Walter S. Johnson Foundation.

This project seeks to improve understanding of young people ages 12 to 24 who are on their own and the issues they face.  These include family conflict and other reasons for being on the street, lack of shelter and educational opportunities, health and mental health needs, and the effect of interactions with law enforcement agencies.  The project highlights solutions for these youth by engaging them directly in research and policy discussions, and giving voice to their experiences and recommendations as well as those of researchers, practitioners, and policy experts.

Allen Bow speaks

During the first two years of the project, 2006-08, consultant and journalist Nell Bernstein and the CCYR/NAM completed a street-outreach survey that employed 40 homeless or formerly homeless young people interviewing over 200 of their peers around the state and conducted focus groups of homeless youth in several cities. 

The key CRB report Voices from the Street: A Survey of Homeless Youth by Their Peers summarizes the research findings about homeless youth’s experiences with and trajectories into homelessness, as well as their ideas for changes in policy, law, and service delivery that they believe would improve their prospects for attaining stability and meeting their own life goals.

The survey findings were presented at several CRB public policy forums on specific issues affecting homeless young people.  The report Homeless Youth: Bibliography and Resources includes forum agendas and contact information for presenters.

Voices from the Street: Homeless Youth Speak Out on State Policy, a 30-minute video, highlights the major findings from the survey and public policy forums, and presents homeless youths’ ideas for change. 

The HYP also published reports on California Population Estimates, LGBTQ Homeless Youth, The Educational Success of Homeless Youth in California and Preparing Youth to Participate in State Policymaking.
In addition, the HYP compiled short video interviews with young people who have experienced homelessness or housing instability; conducted by their peers. The videos are presented on the Video Wall in Youth Voices.  The HYP provides access to these videos to policymakers and organizations for educational purposes.

In 2010 in collaboration with our partners, CCY and JBF, we helped to organize the first ever California Runaway and Homeless Youth Month, set to coincide with National Runaway and Homeless Youth Month. The HYP and other homeless youth-focused organizations provided multiple opportunities for policymakers and other stakeholders to engage with homeless youth on the issues affecting them. A policy seminar was convened featuring nationally recognized researcher, Dr. Michael Pergamitt, who discussed his report on runaway and homeless youth and the reasons they run. Additionally, the HYP released a special edition of Studies in the News, highlighting selected resources including reports, newspaper series, and audio and video presentations related to homeless youth.

In 2011, the HYP focused on promoting solutions to a key issue consistently raised by youth involved in the project: the fragmentation of information about resources, and improving access to appropriate, supportive services.  As a result, we completed a statewide, county-by-county listing of existing programs that specifically serve unaccompanied homeless youth. 

An analysis of our findings about available services and a point-in-time listing of programs serving unaccompanied homeless youth to be used by service providers, youth, and policymakers can be found here. The California Coalition for Youth, in charge of operating the statewide Crisis Line, has since updated their resource database with the HYP inventory.

See Current Activities.