Our Call to Action
McKoy and CC+S colleagues Amanda Eppley and Dr. Shirl Buss recently published Planning Cities With Young People and Schools, highlighting “the overlooked but essential viewpoint of young people from low-income communities of color and their public schools” and offering “an urgently needed set of best-practice recommendations for urban planners to change the status quo and reimagine the future of our cities for and with young people.”
The book culminates with a call to action for practitioners, scholars, and students alike to position our most marginalized youth as critical to the future of our cities. The Y-HEAR initiative is CC+S taking up this call to catalyze campaigns that will change the status quo for our most vulnerable young people, facing the unique challenges of housing instability and homelessness while pursuing their education.
Centering Youth Voice
In practice, the worlds of housing and education policy are frequently siloed from one another, leaving unhoused students to fall through every crack in our system – even though public education is intended to serve all young people. While HUD has established Youth Action Boards to build collaboratively with young adults who have experienced homelessness, unhoused K-12 students rarely get a seat at the table to advocate for themselves. With Y-HEAR, we hope to flip this script, so that it is adults who will seek an invitation to the kids’ table.
Building the Solutions
Recent reports from UCLA and the Learning Policy Institute have deepened public understanding about the state of crisis facing homeless students, including findings that schools are under counting unhoused students by the thousands. Y-HEAR aims to build from this understanding of the problem to begin shaping and implementing the solutions – led by youth, with and for the California Department of Education.
The Y-PLAN and PLUS action research models are an unmatched tool in identifying points of intervention and best practices, and the energy and insights of youth are our most valuable resource in building a more just and joyful future. Y-HEAR joins these forces to tackle the most central challenge at the intersection of housing and education.
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