Rising to the Challenge

Rising to the Challenge is a community action plan to end and prevent youth and young adult homelessness in Boston.

The plan is a coordinated, community response that incorporates all groups and sectors in our community, including health, justice, educational, cultural, and other services.  The expertise of hundreds of individuals, agencies, policymakers, community leaders and, importantly, the youth and young adults actually experiencing homelessness will be needed to identify solutions and make them a reality.


In United Way’s role as convener, we are uniquely positioned to bring together these resources and coordinate their efforts to ensure that the experience of homelessness is rare, brief, and a one-time occurrence.

The Rising to the Challenge vision is to make sure youth and young adults have a safe, identity-validating, and stable place to live, with opportunities to reach their full potential in education and employment, and with self-love and awareness.

The plan is designed to confront all areas of life with which youth and young adults interact and includes inspiring new ideas and realistic action steps.  Most importantly, the plan includes youth and young adults as decision-makers who hold unique expertise in the challenges of youth homelessness.


The need to address youth and young adult homelessness is real.

    • 92 individual youth and young adults live on our streets or in our shelter system  
    • 119 parenting youth and young adults live in our shelter system 
    • 51% of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness identify as Black  
    • 45% of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness identify as Latinx or Hispanic  

Source:  City of Boston. 2021 Point-In-Time Count prepared for HUD. By Jennifer Flynn. Not yet publicly posted. Submitted: 4/30/2021.

  • 26% Of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ (source)
  • 33% of youth and young adults had once been part of the foster care system and nearly half report having been detained by the juvenile or adult justice system. (source)


BAY-CASH is a pilot program that will test Direct Cash Transfers (DCTs) plus key supportive services as a viable model for substantially impacting Young Adult (YA) homelessness in Massachusetts.

This model is incredibly innovative for ending youth homelessness. Although universal basic income and direct cash transfers have gained some momentum in recent years, young people experiencing homelessness continue to face immense barriers to those resources—including stigma, systemic racism, and adultism. We have an opportunity to be part of a small national cohort of communities that is testing this model with this specific population so that we can learn in community, continue to improve the model, prove efficacy, and scale not only across our region, but across Massachusetts.

For more information, please access the BAY-CASH Executive Summary.  A full report can also be found here.


For more information and resources, check out the City of Boston’s website for ending youth and young adult homelessness.

Additional Reading

Boston Houses More Than 100 Young People In First Year Of Anti-Homelessness Initiative 

City announces new plan for ending youth homelessness