2020 State Index on Youth Homelessness is Released

The District of Columbia, Washington, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California top list in third annual rankings



Contact: Karianna Barr

Director of Development & Communications

202-638-2535 kbarr@homelesslaw.org

(February 23, 2021, Washington, DC) – The National Homelessness Law Center (the Law Center) and True Colors United are excited to announce the release of the 2020 State Index on Youth Homelessness. This is the third consecutive year that these two organizations have come together to evaluate all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness.

The 2020 State Index on Youth Homelessness, authored by Brandy Ryan of the Law Center and Dylan Waguespack of True Colors United, assigns each state a score based on its efforts to:

  • Ensure comprehensive supports and services for youth experiencing homelessness;
  • Prevent youth contact with criminal and juvenile legal systems;
  • Provide unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness the opportunity to seek legal independence, and more.

“Even in a year without global catastrophe, young people experiencing homelessness face persistent barriers to shelter, health care, and life sustaining services. Disasters like COVID-19 exacerbate those inequities and make our work that much more critical,” said Brandy Ryan, Staff Attorney at the Law Center. “We are so grateful to the pro bono team at Baker Donelson. With their help, we are clearly showing states how their efforts on youth homelessness are working and where they can improve.”

From highest to lowest, the highest 10 scores in the 2020 State Index were earned by District of Columbia, Washington, Connecticut and Massachusetts (tied), California, New York, Maine, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Colorado. From lowest to highest, the lowest 10 scores were earned by North Dakota, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska and Arkansas (tied), Alaska, and Virginia.

“Over the past year, young people across the US and the agencies who serve them have had our worlds turned upside down,” Dylan Waguespack, Public Policy and External Affairs Director at True Colors United, stated. “Our actions today to provide meaningful support and relief to young people and their families could make or break efforts to end homelessness among all populations in 30 years. The metrics included in the State Index are critical to ensuring that youth and young adults can access the housing and health services they need to stay safe.”

webinar will be hosted on March 10 at 11 PT / 2 ET to discuss this year’s findings as well as strategies that advocates and state officials can use to advance the policies recommended by the State Index.

Read the full Index here: https://youthstateindex.com


The National Homelessness Law Center (the Law Center), formerly known as the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to prevent and end homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.

True Colors United implements innovative solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ young people. We believe that youth homelessness is a community issue. Real change can happen when people come together with a shared vision. For more information about True Colors United and to access research publications such as this report, please visit its website at truecolorsunited.org.

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