From Surviving to Thriving
Youth Perspectives on Navigating Homelessness and the Labor Market
Young adults facing homelessness are a growing demographic in need of greater economic stability—before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in ten young people experienced homelessness annually. In response to that need, MDRC and Covenant House entered into a learning partnership to explore the perspectives and experiences of those young people as they navigate the workforce amid a changing and often precarious labor market. Covenant House, a nonprofit organization operating in 33 cities across six countries, provides housing and supportive services for young people facing homelessness and survivors of human trafficking. Through surveys and interviews that MDRC and Covenant House staff codesigned with select youth, the study team sought to learn about young people’s aspirations, reflect on their strengths and obstacles, and identify which supports they need as they navigate the workforce.
The mission of Covenant House is to deliver services “with unconditional love, absolute respect, and relentless support.” Each location offers a mix of homelessness services (such as direct outreach to youth on the street) and housing programs, which include nonresidential programs (like drop-in centers) and residential housing programs. It also delivers a variety of services to address youth needs, including mental health care, primary health care, and educational and workforce development services. The research findings from this study will be used to help Covenant House develop new strategies to address youth employment needs.