Why This Matters
Homelessness has life-changing mental, physical, and emotional effects on thousands of Westchester’s youngest residents. While situations of homelessness can vary, for example, from sharing others’ housing to living in shelters and in some rare cases, in unsheltered areas, all children and youth experiencing homelessness are at great risk of many co-occurring, system-spanning problems and developmental delays, as well as lifelong health complications and behavioral issues.
WCA’s Current Efforts:
- Released our report, “Making the Invisible Visible: Westchester’s Hidden Homeless Children and Youth.”
- Advocating for a broader definition and standards for alternative housing.
- Fighting for an accurate count of children and youth experiencing homelessness.
- Convening a workgroup focused on child and youth homelessness in Westchester.
- Expanding homeless prevention services targeting homeless children and youth.
Why This Matters
- Children and youth cannot afford to spend their childhood and adolescence—their most formative years—worrying about where they are going to sleep, in an uncertain state of stress and danger.
- Homelessness has serious, lasting, and irreparable effects on the physical, social, mental, and emotional health of children and youth.
- Children and youth who experience even temporary homelessness can see significant and far-reaching developmental effects on their academic achievement, social lives, and behavior.
- Many children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness slip through the cracks due to the County’s complicated definitions and standards for assistance.
- Westchester has different and inaccurate data on children and youth experiencing homelessness. Without representative data to truly understand the scale of the problem, the County will not be able to make a concentrated effort against child and youth homelessness.
- Westchester’s children and youth experiencing homelessness interact with struggling, reactive systems that are not adequately oriented toward homelessness prevention.
What Is WCA Doing?
- WCA released its report, “Making the Invisible Visible: Westchester’s Hidden Homeless Children and Youth,” which is available for download. This report is our initial publication and details findings from our nearly two-year investigation on this issue. This is just the beginning—we are moving the work forward and are actively seeking partnerships across the county.
- Advocating for a broader definition and standards for alternative housing. The current system allows far too many children, youth, and families to be lost in the shuffle and denied services. WCA is pushing for Westchester to adopt a common sense definition of homelessness that includes those who do not have access to adequate housing alternatives.
- Fighting for an accurate count of the homeless children and youth population in Westchester using adequate housing alternatives as the standard. Westchester needs a representative count to know how to allocate resources combating child and youth homelessness.
- Convening a workgroup focused on children and youth experiencing homelessness in Westchester. There is currently no collaborative group addressing homelessness from a children and youth lens. We are recruiting an inclusive group of partners who are affected by homelessness and who work with children and youth experiencing homelessness.
- Expanding homeless prevention services targeting children and youth. Increasing funding and awareness for programs prevent homelessness before it causes children and youth to lose their way of life. Preventing homelessness is easier and more effective than responding to its many and varied effects after it occurs.