The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded $43 million in grants to 11 organizations nationwide to help end youth homelessness. Two of those organizations — Washington Department of Commerce and Snohomish County — are based in Washington state and have collectively been awarded $7,016,984.

“Our highest calling is to protect our most vulnerable residents,” said Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive, in a statement. “Our local partners and this project will allow us to protect thousands of youth who find themselves in harm’s way. We appreciate the support of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and their commitment to our community. We will continue to pursue innovative and compassionate solutions to these widespread challenges.”

In January 2017, the Washington State Department of Commerce identified 314 unaccompanied homeless youth in its jurisdiction; at that same time, the Snohomish County Human Services Department identified 117 unaccompanied homeless youth in Everett/Snohomish County. This grant money will help both organizations better serve and protect these individuals.

Behind these funds is HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project, which aids young people experiencing homelessness by providing them with options for finding rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, and host homes. In strategizing the ways in which this project could best meet the needs of this specific demographic, HUD consulted with youth to ask them for their opinions. Many of these young people have been instrumental in reviewing applications of organizations and communities seeking monetary assistance.

In 2018, other communities receiving grants include Boston, Columbus, Lincoln, Louisville, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Fe, Vermont, and three tribes in Minnesota. These selections were made with input from HUD’s federal partners — the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness — as well as young people experiencing homelessness themselves.

“Washington is full of creative and talented people working to solve this complex issue,” said Kim Justice, executive director of the state’s Office of Homeless Youth, in a statement. “Preventing and ending youth homelessness strengthens communities all over the state, and HUD’s investment puts us at the forefront to demonstrate that it is possible.”