This project was sponsored by Waypoint within their runaway and homeless youth continuum. Waypoint is a private non-profit operating in New Hampshire and supporting homeless youth statewide. The objective of the project was to review state policies affecting youth for the purpose of increasing Waypoint’s ability to advocate for legislative changes that can prevent and bring an end to youth homelessness.
The rights and freedoms of minors in unsafe situations are often limited and tied to another person’s guardianship, which may not be the best option for them. Expanding their rights through new policy could improve their safety, quality of life, and reduce their risk for homelessness. In Manchester there are over 1000 adolescents and young adults (ages 10-21) experiencing some form of homelessness. Youth homelessness increases risk for mental health disorders, substance use disorders, lower educational attainment, suicidal ideation or attempt, food insecurity, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exploitation by others.
Policy keywords were harvested from a literature review and from brainstorming with Waypoint staff. The keywords were used to search for bills relevant to homeless youth in the 2020 legislative session. State laws were reviewed according to guidelines from the National Network for Youth. In total 54 relevant bills and 25 relevant laws were identified. Several bills identified have the potential to expand the legal rights of minors experiencing homelessness or at risk for it. The project methods were shared with Waypoint and can be replicated at any time to identify impactful legislation and inform Waypoint’s advocacy strategies.
College of Health and Human Services
Date of Publication or Presentation
Graduate Research Project
College or School
Mercer, Adam, "Youth Homelessness - State Policy Review" (2020). Student Research Projects. 23.
New Hampshire State House image credit: https://www.britannica.com/place/Concord-New-Hampshire