Pilot Projects vs. Full-Scale Implementation

So, what is happening is that HUD issues RFPs each year to fund a couple of small-scale pilot projects re: homeless youth.

But the very definition of a “pilot project” is a small scale preliminary study conducted in order to evaluate feasibility, time, cost, adverse events, and improve upon the study design prior to performance of a full-scale research project.

In other words:

  • The goal is (and should be) to take what they’re learned from the pilot projects and implement it on a large-scale level.
  • Otherwise, why do a pilot project in the first place?
  • Our young people need and deserve a nationally cohesive housing safety net — not a patchwork quilt with holes in it, due to lack of consistent or equitable resources.

Some of these pilot projects are great, and should be replicated. And some of them end up being a series of meetings to gather or look at data, but never culminate in anything but some revenue/salaries for the agencies that get the RFP.

The largest foster care populations in Ohio are in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.  This corresponds with population in general. Those three cities have successfully applied for and received a youth housing demonstration grant from HUD.

1.) Cincinnati has received multiple demonstration grants: Lighthouse Youth Services is amazing. They began piloting youth housing in the 1980s. They have developed a tiered housing model that allows young people to struggle and learn. For example, in their program, if a young person struggles in maintaining their own apartment, they can be placed in a dormitory or a host home.  So, why hasn’t their program been replicated?  Their program is clearly successful. It’s been around since 1980. So, why not move forward to replicate it?

2.) Cleveland:  received a grant to end youth homelessness, and they responded by creating A Place 4 Me, which is an initiative that harnesses the strengths and resources of more than 30 partners to prevent and end homelessness among young adults age 15 to 24 in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County. Their goals are impressive. Again — is this replicable?

3.) Columbus: Here in Columbus, the Community Shelter Board has received a $6M grant to “Help End Youth Homelessness in Central Ohio.”

However, there is no plan to expand the pool of housing options to meet the diverse needs of youth. I asked, “Couldn’t we add more beds to My Place?   Or create a Star House with beds?”  and was told that no funding would be spent on that.

The most we are hoping for at this point is to get a more youth friendly option to the Homeless Hotline.


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