Homelessness and Juvenile Justice

javascript:void(0)Collaborating for Change

CJJ launched its Collaborating for Change: Addressing the Intersections of Youth Legal System Involvement and Homelessness project in June 2016 with two main goals: (1) to decrease the likelihood that homeless youth become involved with the legal system, and (2) to prevent youth homelessness among system-involved youth.  In collaboration with project partners the National Network for Youth (NN4Y) and the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (NLC), the project will generate policy and practice recommendations, training and technical assistance resources, and avenues for greater collaboration across systems.  The project is supported by the Raikes Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Melville Charitable Trust. Its work is guided by an Advisory Committee comprised of over a dozen national, state, and local experts from a range of youth-serving sectors, including representatives from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and the National Juvenile Defender Center.

Training and Technical Assistance 

Each year, 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness and approximately 1 million young people become involved with the youth court, probation, and incarceration systems. In some cases, this involvement may be due to lack of shelter or other necessities. This can sometimes occur when a young person is arrested for a curfew violation due to lack of stable housing, or when they are arrested for theft for stealing food, or money to buy food. In other cases, youth who are arrested and released (either through a diversion program or after spending time in a juvenile detention facility) may experience homelessness because they are either unable to return to their families due to restrictions imposed by landlords or public housing authorities, or because families are unwilling or unable to have young people return due to family conflict.

To address the intersections between youth homelessness and legal system involvement, CJJ designed the training and technical assistance program Collaborating for Change: Addressing the Intersections of Youth Legal System Involvement and Homelessness.This training is available for communities that have already been selected to take part in HUD's Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP). It aims to provide selected communities with additional training and technical assistance related to the intersections between the youth homelessness and youth legal systems. 

Currently, CJJ and NLC are taking a deeper dive into Ohio, working to help assess their policies and practices related to the criminalization of youth homelessness, accessibility of diversion programs, and ways to improve reentry planning for young people who are returning to the community from youth legal system involvement. Additionally, in 2021 and 2022 we also explored our new learning collaborative approach. The Learning Network is a combination of nonprofits, governmental organizations, municipal leaders, and others, who explore the ways they can prevent youth homelessness by building stronger partnerships with their youth justice systems. Throughout the year, it will focus on the Principles for Change with an emphasis on how that principle can be applied in a way that centers equity and addresses the disproportionate number of young people of color who come into contact with the youth justice and youth homelessness systems.

CJJ thanks our funders and project partners for their help and support of this work. We are especially grateful to the Raikes Foundation, Nord Family Foundation, and Sisters of Charity Foundation for thier ongoing support. 

New Toolkit Released February 2022: 
Policy Recommendations: 
How You Can Help: 
Special Populations: 
Additional Resources 
Advisory Committee

Starcia Ague
ACLU Board of Directors (WA)

Grace Bauer
Justice for Families

Darla Bardine*
National Network for Youth

Sonya Brown
Project 18

Jeffrey Butts
Justice Resource Institute

Judge Joan Byer
Judicial Officer, Ret.

Alex Cawthorne
National Governors Association

Keyona Cooper
Youth Advocate

Margaret Dizerega
Vera Institute for Justice

Silas Follendorf
National Network for Youth

Sabrina Forte
Bay Area Legal Aid

Laura Furr*
National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education, and Families

Megan Gibbard
A Way Home America


Jacqui Greene
National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice

Sparky Harlan
Bill Wilson Center

Aimee Hendrigan
Melville Charitable Trust

Melanie Heitkamp
Youthworks of North Dakota

Beth Holger-Ambrose
The Link

Serena Holthe
National Juvenile Defender Center

Amy Horton-Newell
ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty

Patricia Julianelle
SchoolHouse Connection

Meghan Maury
National LGBTQ Task Force

Marcy Mistrett
Campaign for Youth Justice

Mindy Mitchell*
National Alliance to End Homelessness

Jeannette Pai-Espinosa
Crittenton Foundation

Jennifer Pokempner
Juvenile Law Center


Josephine Pufpaff
Director of Systems Improvement and Youth Homelessness

Martha Raimon
Center for the Study of Social Policy

Kathy Rowings
National Association of Counties

Justin Rush
True Colors Fund

Michael Santos*
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty 

Elizabeth Seigle
           Council of State Governments

Melissa Sickmund
National Center on Juvenile Justice

Diane Sierpina
The Tow Foundation

Diane Smith Howard
National Disability Rights Network

Jason Szanyi
Center for Children's Law and Policy

Casey Trupin
Raikes Foundation

Stacey Violante Cote
Center for Children's Advocacy

Alicia Woodsby
Partnership for Strong Communities


*Steering Committee Member