To end youth homelessness, the ideas of young people with lived experience must be heard and respected.
There’s a few talking points I always go to about the National Youth Forum on Homelessness (NYFH): that there’s twenty young people around the country with lived experience of homelessness who make sure the national conversation is filtered through the lens of young people. These young people inform our field’s policy, practice, and everything in between.
But anyone who has come across this group would tell you that NYFH is so much more than that. To me, the National Youth Forum on Homelessness is defined by its boundless joy, passion, and ability to reimagine what we are capable of as a movement.
What’s NYFH up to in 2019?
Back in February, the five members of the NYFH Executive Committee convened with the fifteen brand-new NYFH General Forum members in Washington, D.C. for a full week. They built their public speaking and facilitation skills while learning about the public policy, housing systems, funding and grant cycles, personal branding, and much more. To all our friends and visitors throughout the week, it was immediately clear that the keys to ending youth homelessness are in the hands of people who have experienced it. Now, these young leaders are busy making their impact – from developing a policy agenda on youth homelessness to reviewing housing bills to advising activists in communities across the country.
When the movement to end youth homelessness began to embrace the concept of youth collaboration, we didn’t necessarily know what was going to come from it. I’m so glad to find our movement’s commitment to youth collaboration deepening every day. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that space must not only be made for young people to be a part of the conversation – space must be made for them to lead the conversation. In the National Youth Forum on Homelessness, young people aren’t just brought to the table – they make the table. They bring fresh perspectives, new energy, and hold the rest of our movement accountable. We have a lot to learn, and I’m so glad that we’re doing it together.