Youth Homelessness Prevention

Our goal is to ensure safe and stable housing for all young people across the state of Washington so that they may thrive in the short and long term regardless of their location, age, race, ethnicity, neurodiversity, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation. Learn more about the root causes of youth homelessness, prevention programs in Washington state and early recommendations here. The final strategic plan on the prevention youth and young adult housing instability can found here.

Our approach

Co-Design Icon
Co-design with lived experts
Stakeholders Icon
Work with system side stakeholders
Gather feedback from more lived experts from across the state



July - December 2020

Understanding root causes

Understanding state systems

Preliminary report

December 2020 - May 2021

Co-design with lived experts disproportionately impacted by homelessness

May 2021-July 2021

Gather feedback from lived experts, community and advocacy organizations

August - September 2021

Final strategic plan on prevention of youth homelessness

Understanding youth homelessness

OHY System Inadequacies

Structural factors – Structural factors are large systemic issues that are intractable from an individual’s perspective. They include historic harms, practices, policies and processes that continue to impact communities today. Structural factors also determine the types of action that an individual can take in response to a problem or the range of actions that can they even consider.


Of young people between 18-24 years are low income or experiencing poverty in Washington.

System failures – Systems include government agencies in charge of designing and implementing programs and services for people at the state and local level. System gaps occur when underlying needs of youth and families are not met through existing programs and services offered by the different agencies making up the larger set of systems.


Black, Native, Pacific Islander/ Native Hawaiian youth are removed from their homes and placed in out of home care at two times the rate of their white peers.

Individual and relational factors – Individual factors are attributes at an individual level that affect a young person’s experiences. For example, a young person’s undiagnosed behavioral health issues will affect relational factors within the household, increasing family conflict and creating an environment resulting in the young person leaving the household or being kicked out. Relational factors such as the death of a care giver or domestic violence are interpersonal issues that can also negatively affect housing stability.


According to Division of Vocational Rehabilitation 9,286 young people (ages 14- 24) with disabilities were unstably housed in 2018

Are you a lived expert of youth homelessness or a caregiver supporting a young person who has or is experiencing homelessness.

We would like to stay connected with you.

Prevention of youth homelessness is a collaboration between:

For more information:

Do You Need Help?

If you or someone you know needs assistance, you can find help by using the 211 Washington Information Network.

If you are a young person who is thinking about running away or already has, you can talk to someone confidentially at the National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-RUNAWAY or 1-800-786-2929

Terms and definitions

Youth and young adults between the ages of 12-24 years.

Used interchangeably with young adults. Young people between the ages of 12-24 years.

Young people under the age of 30 years who have experienced housing instability between the ages of 12-24 years.

Parents, grandparents or chosen family whose youth have experiences housing instability.

Lived experts, community organization and the Office of Homeless Youth designing policy, services and solutions together.

State agency representatives who work at agencies such as foster care system, juvenile justice, behavioral health, disability administration, employment etc.

Program Links

Are you a provider serving youth or caregivers in Washington state? We want to hear from you.

Are you interested in staying up to date or learning more about the initiative?

E-mail Updates
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