Thesis

Housing homeless youth: an evaluation of the 6th Street Center for Youth's housing programs

Homeless youth are entering housing programs, only to re-enter homelessness. This thesis project is an evaluation of the 6th Street Center for Youth’s housing program in Chico, California, which had never been evaluated before. The program houses homeless youth aged 18-24 who have mental health diagnoses. The research goals included understanding barriers, how the barriers affect outcomes, how the youth experienced the programs, and what changes are needed to help youth exit into stable housing. The evaluation was a mixed methods approach over a six-month period. It included an evaluation of the housing outcomes for all former youth, a personal history analysis of a randomly selected sample of 20% of the youth, and a survey, which was given to current and past residents to gain insight into their experiences. Results showed that 54 % of the youth exited into stable housing, anxiety was the most common mental health diagnosis, and most of the youth maintained street-related friendships. Fifty-two percent acknowledged substance use, and most youth had significant histories of trauma and family instability. The youth reported feeling safe, attending school, and gaining employment, but they struggled with interpersonal relationships with roommates. Evaluation of the surveys and housing outcomes indicated that the housing programs are successful in providing the opportunity for employment, attending school, and developing life skills. This study supports the evidence that the effects of trauma are an integral part of why homeless youth struggle to find stable housing, and that further research and data collection are needed.

Homeless youth are entering housing programs, only to re-enter homelessness. This thesis project is an evaluation of the 6th Street Center for Youth’s housing program in Chico, California, which had never been evaluated before. The program houses homeless youth aged 18-24 who have mental health diagnoses. The research goals included understanding barriers, how the barriers affect outcomes, how the youth experienced the programs, and what changes are needed to help youth exit into stable housing. The evaluation was a mixed methods approach over a six-month period. It included an evaluation of the housing outcomes for all former youth, a personal history analysis of a randomly selected sample of 20% of the youth, and a survey, which was given to current and past residents to gain insight into their experiences. Results showed that 54 % of the youth exited into stable housing, anxiety was the most common mental health diagnosis, and most of the youth maintained street-related friendships. Fifty-two percent acknowledged substance use, and most youth had significant histories of trauma and family instability. The youth reported feeling safe, attending school, and gaining employment, but they struggled with interpersonal relationships with roommates. Evaluation of the surveys and housing outcomes indicated that the housing programs are successful in providing the opportunity for employment, attending school, and developing life skills. This study supports the evidence that the effects of trauma are an integral part of why homeless youth struggle to find stable housing, and that further research and data collection are needed.

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