From communities for communities: A people-centered approach to finding solutions to homelessness

Published: July 13, 2022

Building Changes is excited to announce six partners that will receive new grant awards totaling $3.04 million through the Washington Youth & Families Fund (WYFF). Through WYFF, we are able to support more organizations to bring forward innovative strategies from within their communities that will further solutions to homelessness in Washington State.

For this round of awards, we had two main priorities in mind in choosing our partnerships. We wanted to collaborate with organizations that provide housing and support services for unaccompanied youth and young adults, and those which center trauma-healing in their work to support families experiencing homelessness. We prioritized working with organizations that serve LGBTQ2+ and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) because these populations often lack adequate housing support and services that affirm their identities and backgrounds.

Building Changes is eager to learn from and support our new partners to expand on their work serving youth, young adults, and families experiencing homelessness. By supporting organizations that will address harms caused by inequities, we hope that more youth, young adults, and families will be on their way to lasting healing that will help them stay stably and permanently housed.

Partners Serving Youth & Young Adults

Grant Amount: $575,300

TOGETHER! Is a nonprofit organization that has been serving young people between the ages 12 and 24 in Thurston County for 33 years. TOGETHER! is piloting a new Host Home program, specifically to support BIPOC and LGBTQ2+ youth. In partnership with local school districts, this program will match young people with host families that can provide stable, safe, and identity affirming housing in Thurston County. TOGETHER!’s mission and core values of equity, mobilization, and systems change are squarely aligned with our work to ensure that children and youth are equitably and holistically served in the homeless and housing systems. We are excited to support TOGETHER! and their Host Home program to help increase long-term stable housing options for unaccompanied youth in the South Sound region.

Foundation for Youth Resiliency & Engagement
Grant Amount: $540,120

Foundations for Youth Resiliency & Engagement (FYRE) is a nonprofit organization that offers programs and support services for BIPOC and LGBTQ2+ youth and young adults between the ages of 12 to 24 years old in Okanogan County. So far, they have provided after school services, academic support, life skills trainings, help with fulfilling basic needs, and health resources. Adding to their extensive list of services, they want to create equitable and accessible housing options and support services that will be designed by and serving unaccompanied young people. We believe that solutions to housing should come from within communities. FYRE’s approach to engage youth in their communities to build out housing options aligns with our mission to advance equitable responses in homelessness. We are thrilled to be part of their expansion of services.

Northwest Youth Services
Grant Amount: $404,580

Northwest Youth Services (NWYS) is a nonprofit organization that provides housing and support services for young people between the ages of 12 and 24 experiencing homelessness in Whatcom County. To prevent young people from experiencing homelessness after they exit systems of care, NWYS expands programs that will support youth before they turn 18 years old. Young people who exit systems of care in adulthood often lack the support they need to avoid homelessness. Critical Transitions programs help address the unique needs of individuals by providing supportive coaching, legal support, and housing options that are identity affirming. This is especially important for those who are part of the BIPOC and LGBTQ2+ community who often lack support that take their unique backgrounds and experience into consideration. By partnering with NWYS, we hope to expand existing successful strategies with an organization who can continue to provide holistic support for youth who are at a critical juncture of their life.

Partners Serving Families

Mother Nation
Grant Amount: $560,000

Mother Nation is a nonprofit organization that provides culturally-informed healing services, advocacy, mentorship, and homeless prevention services serves for Native American families in Washington State. Using WYFF dollars, they will expand their healing programs and increase outreach efforts to support more Native American families experiencing homelessness. By addressing trauma — including but not limited to genocide, colonization, intergenerational trauma, and domestic violence—families can move toward healing, thriving, and staying stably housed. Partnering with organizations that will incorporate culturally-informed healing services as part of their homeless support work is one of WYFF’s main goals and Mother Nation has already been leading this work. We are honored to work in partnership with Mother Nation and to learn how healing services can transform the lives of families experiencing homelessness.

Communities of Color Coalition
Grant Amount: $480,000

Communities of Color Coalition (C3) is a grassroots nonprofit that is led by and serving Black and Brown community members in Snohomish County. Their mission is to create spaces for healing and to mobilize communities into creating alternative systems, solutions, and narratives that radically disrupt racial oppression. C3’s programs incorporate healing services, mutual aid, and community convenings that centers and celebrates Black and Brown experience. Their gathering help to deepen people’s understanding of internalized racism and intergenerational trauma. They will use WYFF dollars to mitigate harm caused by traditional direct service programs in an intentional and holistic way. We believe that culturally relevant services that recognize and honor people’s multicultural backgrounds are a critical aspect of providing racially equitable services. C3 has been centering racial equity practices into their existing work and we are excited to help them broaden their reach to support more families to heal in their communities.

Freedom Project
Grant Amount: $480,000

Freedom Project is a community organization that is led by and serving communities targeted and impacted by mass incarceration, especially Black Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) throughout Washington State. They assist families and individuals by helping them access resources, advocating for them, and incorporating community-centered and culturally-relevant healing support in their services. Their approach to healing is informed by community and the people that they serve. Using WYFF dollars, Freedom Project will expand on their housing support for families and deepen the community-centered healing practices underscoring all their work. Without recognizing and addressing deep-seated trauma, more than half of those who have been released from prison will statistically be re-incarcerated within five years of their release. We are excited to work in partnership with Freedom Project because of their deep understanding of the necessity of healing and restorative practices to support those exiting systems. By supporting people to address trauma and to heal, we can all work together to help increase the chances of those impacted by incarceration to find stable housing and thrive.

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