Office of Homeless Youth

Every night, thousands of homeless youth in Washington go to sleep without the safety, stability, and support of a family or home. Advocacy efforts led by young people helped establish the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Programs (OHY) in 2015. OHY leads statewide efforts to reduce and prevent homelessness for youth (ages 12-17) and young adults (ages 18-24) by partnering with community programs to establish ongoing and future funding, policy, and best practices.

Illustration of two women
Cover artwork by Cristina “Pink” Varela for the 2024 WA Unaccompanied Youth and Young Adult Landscape Scan (PDF) .


OHY funding is allocated to a range of services with specific goals that work together to ensure youth and young adults throughout the state have access to five priority service areas:

  • Stable Housing – Every youth has a safe and healthy place to sleep.
  • Family Reconciliation– Families are reunited when safe and appropriate.
  • Permanent Connections– Youth have opportunities to establish positive, healthy relationships with adults.
  • Education and Employment– Youth have opportunities to advance their education or training and obtain employment.
  • Social and Emotional Well-Being– Youth have access to behavioral and physical health care; services nurture each youth’s strengths and abilities.

Services that address immediate needs by providing crisis intervention and emergency supplies, assessments of individual needs, connection with relevant resources (e.g. shelter, housing, medical care, counseling, etc.) and ongoing case management.

Street Outreach Services (ages 12-24)

Direct provision and referrals for basic needs resources and services, including providing problem solving conversations or advocacy to help identify practical solutions to resolving housing crises. Services are provided through street or community based outreach or in drop-in centers.

Young Adult Shelters (ages 18-24)

Immediate, temporary emergency overnight shelter with assessment and service planning

Lifeline Support System

A pilot project to provide support and service connection to individuals that have experienced or are at risk of entering public systems of care, who require assistance to overcome a life challenge that could escalate into a crisis. See the Lifeline Support System Pilot page for more information.

Temporary residence, basic needs and services such as assessment, referrals, family reconciliation, and behavioral health support while assisting youth in obtaining safe and stable housing. Residential programs serving youth under age 18 must be licensed by the Department of Children, Youth, & Families, except for unlicensed host homes operated through the Transitional Living Program.

HOPE Centers

Serve youth for up to 90 days who are living on the street or another unsafe location. Youth must voluntarily self-refer and may be assisted by family, friends, schools, law enforcement, tribes, social workers, or other community based organizations.

Crisis Residential Centers (CRC)

Serve youth for up to 15 days who have run away, are experiencing family conflict, or whose health and safety may be at risk. Youth may voluntarily self-refer, be referred by law enforcement due to circumstances which constitute a danger to the youth’s safety, or be referred by DCYF or the court when an out-of-home placement has been approved.

Secure Crisis Residential Centers (SCRC)

Provide CRC services for no longer than 5 days and are located within juvenile detention centers. Youth must be referred by law enforcement due to circumstances which constitute a danger to the youth’s safety or be court ordered for contempt in at-risk youth proceedings. 

Transitional Living Programs (TLP)

Long-term housing for non-state dependent youth ages 16-17 who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Programs provide housing transition planning within 6 months of turning 18. TLPs may be operated within licensed facilities and/or host homes.

Provides transitional housing, rental assistance and case management to help individuals move towards independence and self-sufficiency. Serves young adults ages 18 through 24 who meet low income limits.

Young Adult Housing Programs

Serves young adults who are currently or at-risk of becoming homeless.

Independent Youth Housing Programs

Serves young adults who were dependent of Washington State or federally recognized tribal foster care prior to age 18, or who are enrolled in Extended Foster Care.


Diversion is a person-centered and strength-based approach that uses creative, problem-solving conversations to generate housing solutions and includes flexible funding to implement those solutions when needed. OHY partners with A Way Home Washington and Building Changes to coordinate services and centralized fiscal administrators to support youth and young adults.

Homeless Student Stability Program (HSSP)

OHY partners with Building Changes to provide housing support services for students and their families experiencing homelessness with the goal to stabilize education, encourage collaborative strategies between housing and education partners, and to develop and implement evidence-informed strategies to address racial inequities. See Commerce- Homeless Student Stability Program for more information.

Housing Stability for Youth in Courts (H-SYNC)

A prevention model developed by the University of Washington CoLab in collaboration with community and county partners, H-SYNC serves youth within the juvenile court system to identify needs and refer them and their families to needed prevention, intervention, and housing services.

System of Care (SOC)

Focused efforts to prevent youth and young adults in publicly funded systems of care from exiting into homelessness through a variety of service interventions. Systems of care include child welfare, behavioral health, juvenile justice, and OHY funded programs.

Ancillary Therapeutic Services

Provide a variety of behavioral health supports to youth and/or young adults who are engaged in OHY programs. Services may include screening and referral, diagnosis by a licensed mental health provider, brief behavioral health treatment, individual or group counseling, substance misuse prevention, harm reduction, care coordination, and other similar services. Services can be provided through a staff clinician, behavioral health professional providing case consultation and/or staff training, connection to online counselors, peer counselors, or other methods.

Community Support Teams

Convenes teams for youth accessing shelter for the purpose of identifying supports focused on resolving family conflict and obtaining and maintaining long-term stable housing.

Protected Health Care

Provides a broad range of support and services to youth seeking gender-affirming and/or reproductive health care.

Supporting selected communities in developing and implementing a local, coordinated approach to ending youth and young adult homelessness.

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP)

A federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development seeking to end youth homelessness.  The Washington Balance of State (WA-BoS) received awards in 2018 and 2022 to support innovative housing programs serving youth and young adults in a total of 34 counties. Programs include Rapid Re-Housing, Transitional Housing, Supportive Services, and the Youth Lead Project.

Anchor Communities Initiative (ACI)

A public-private partnership that brings together a diverse coalition of partners from all parts of a selected community to work across systems and coordinate a unique plan and approach to ending youth and young adult homelessness. A Way Home Washington coordinates efforts in Clallam, Clark, Jefferson, Skagit, Thurston, Whatcom, Pierce, Spokane, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties

Doorway Project

Provides services in the University District neighborhood of Seattle with continuous collaboration with local providers and community members led by a partnership between YouthCare and the University of Washington.

Arlington Drive Youth Campus

The Tacoma Housing Authority, Community Youth Services, and the YMCA’s Y Social Impact Center partner together for this unique housing



The Office of Homeless Youth does not provide services directly. Please contact an OHY-funded Youth Service Provider (PDF) or Coordinated Entry Site (Excel) to connect with local resources.


To sign up for updates from the Office of Homeless Youth (OHY) or access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

Program Links

News and Announcements