Detroit Justice Center Endorses Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act

Last month, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib introduced the Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act, which is an innovative way to address homelessness across the nation. The Detroit Justice Center endorses this bill as we champion eliminating economic barriers that keep our residents from garnering safe and secure affordable housing.“The Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act is a welcomed first step towards addressing the ongoing issue of homelessness and the manner in which unhoused residents are disproportionately impacted by the criminal system,” said Nancy Parker, Executive Director,  Detroit Justice Center. “Our current system fails to address known root causes, and instead, substitutes prisons and jails for actual policies that address the confluence of indigency and egregiously high housing costs in this country. This bill represents a long overdue shift away from the flawed carceral approach towards a more just city.” 

Over the past five years, DJC has been fighting for affordable housing in Detroit. We’ve provided direct services to the community for legal defense against unfair landlords, assistance setting up co-ops and Community Land Trusts (CLTs), and assisting Detroit homeowners with property tax assessment. Cosponsored by Representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Barbara Lee (CA-12), and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), the bill is slated to launch a pilot program that will provide direct cash assistance to emancipated minors and adults under 30 years old experiencing homelessness in the amount of $1,400, or the adjusted fair market rent, for 36 months. The effects of the program on housing and health outcomes will also be studied along with the program’s other impacts. 

“We can’t keep repeating the same policy approaches that haven’t ended the youth homelessness crisis. By providing direct cash assistance, we can address our housing crisis while respecting the autonomy and dignity of the folks receiving assistance,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “This bill came directly from young people with lived experience. They helped craft the bill to ensure that it meets the real needs of our unhoused neighbors. In the richest country in the history of the world, it’s time to eradicate homelessness. The Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act brings us closer to that goal.”

More than 3.5 million young adults and almost 700,000 young people experience a form of being unhoused while specific groups such as Black youth face much higher risks. For example, 83% of Black young people experience greater risk of being unhoused, while LGBTQ+ youth have a higher chance of experiencing homelessness compared to others at a percentage of 120. Unfortunately, the number of unhoused young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 has increased 17 percent from 2022-2023. However, according to recent studies, unhoused people being provided with cash assistance improves housing and employment circumstances while also halting increased substance abuse, and saves money by decreasing reliance on the shelter system. 

Nevertheless, research on how impactful cash assistance is rare in the U.S. The recent cash assistance studies in relation to homelessness have also not specifically focused on youth. They’ve been tiny and geographically targeted. It’s now crucial to prove the benefits of direct cash assistance for unhoused young people is beneficial, which is why the Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act is important. Past cash assistance program participants have described the effect of the assistance life-changing, providing individuals with agency around how to counteract their unique circumstances. 

This bill has also been endorsed by: A Way Home America, Detroit Justice Center, Homeless Action Network of Detroit,  Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, MiSide Community Impact Network, Ruth Ellis Center, National Homelessness Law Center, Center for Popular Democracy, Campion Advocacy Fund, Community Solutions, Corporation for Supportive Housing, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Point Source Youth, True Colors United, Youth Collaboratory, Larkin Street Youth Services, Mockingbird Society, and SaySo.