Together we can make a difference.

Ending Youth Homelessness: Maureen Blaha at the White House

Our Executive Director Maureen Blaha recently attended a White House Policy Briefing on ending youth homelessness. Here are some of her thoughts on her experience.

I was one of the select individuals invited to the White House Briefing on Ending Youth Homelessness sponsored by the White House, True Colors Fund and the United States Interagency Council on Youth Homelessness. I was proud to join other national leaders from across the country to strategize solutions to prevent and end youth homelessness.

Gregory Lewis Exec. Director of True Colors Fund and Maureen Blaha Exec. Director of NRS at White House Briefing

Gregory Lewis, ED of True Colors Fund, and Maureen Blaha, ED of NRS, at White House Briefing

The briefing began with nine courageous youth, who experienced homelessness, sharing their sobering stories, as varied as the communities in which they live. Activist and actor Sara Ramirez spoke, indicating why she cares so much about this vulnerable population and how together we can make a difference.

Actress Sara Ramirez & True Colors Fund Board Member Participant at White House Briefing with Maureen Blaha

Actress Sara Ramirez & True Colors Fund Board Member Participant at White House Briefing with Maureen Blaha (and child of a former pregnant teen who experienced homelessness whose mother spoke at the briefing)

Many dignitaries spoke about their commitment to ending youth homelessness, including U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth & Families, Rafael Lopez, who said, “YES WE CAN end youth homelessness by 2020.”

Rafael Lopez, Commissioner, ACYF, US Dept. of Health & Human Services with Maureen Blaha at White House Briefing on Ending Youth Homelessness

Rafael Lopez, Commissioner, ACYF, US Dept. of Health & Human Services with Maureen Blaha

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that $2 million in funding for Chapin Hall’s Voices of Youth Count (VoYC) initiative, which is aimed at bringing actionable new data and evidence to prevent and end unaccompanied youth homelessness in America. VoYC will conduct an incidence and prevalence study of unaccompanied youth homelessness using the best quantitative and qualitative social science research methods available.

The day was also significant as A Way Home America (AWHA), a national initiative to end youth homelessness, was launched. AWHA will help build the movement to not only end youth homelessness but to prevent it. AWHA is made up of homeless youth providers, advocates, researchers, government agencies, philanthropists, and young people uniting behind a common goal. We know that despite what can be overwhelming difficulties, young people experiencing homelessness have strengths and hopes for their own future. We must ensure that young people have access to safe housing and support to reach their potential.

No young person should have to do homework without a home.

You can see more through the True Colors Fund Storify recap:

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