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Substantive policy change is an essential tool to dismantling the systemic causes of young adult homelessness and elevating Breaktime’s impact. By working with public officials, Breaktime bolsters funding, increases resources, and safeguards protections for young adults experiencing homelessness.


Housing First & Employment 

Policy Wins

  • $25,000,000 through H. 4629 (The ARPA spending package) for YouthWorks Line item, this will create the single largest investment in youth jobs in Massachusetts history.

  • Amendment 744: Securing Jobs for Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness in MA.

  • $800k has been added to the City of Boston's budget to support year-round jobs for 19-24 y/o's experiencing homelessness 

  • With Breaktime’s advocacy, H. 3515, which will provide free state IDs to all young adults in Massachusetts experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, unanimously passed the Massachusetts’ State Senate.

Housing First is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus terminating their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals with improved quality of life. This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and stable housing before attending less immediately critical concerns, such as employment, budgeting, or confronting substance use disorders. Additionally, Housing First is based on the theory that client choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation, and that exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life.

To achieve this goal, Breaktime’s Policy Department will:

  1. Support Housing First Initiatives at the federal, state, and local level, including the Biden Administration’s House America initiative.

  2. Support the construction and adaptive reuse of building and zoning codes to prioritize the construction of affordable housing in Massachusetts. 

  3. Actively pursue opportunities to increase funds that support rapid re-housing programming at the federal, state, and local levels.

According to the City Of Boston, the Housing Boston 2030 plans have identified the need to construct 69,000 new units of housing, with at least 16,000 of those being income-restricted units. Breaktime’s Policy Department:

  1. Will introduce, advocate for, and pass legislation at the city and state level ensuring a right to housing for all residents of Massachusetts.

  2. Partner with the Administration of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to create pathways to permanent housing for 150 Breaktime Program Associates annually.

  3. Work in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement the Housing First model nationally, to reduce the number of young adults experiencing homelessness by 25% annually.

Employment opportunities are key to the prevention of, and successful transition out of, homelessness. Without a viable income, many individuals, families, and youth are unable to sustain housing over the long term. As of 2021, there were over 88,000 opportunity youth in Massachusetts. The US government defines opportunity youth as young people ages 16 to 24 who are currently disconnected from work or school. According to Measure of America, this increase in youth disconnection functions as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

fund youth employment

In 2020, the MA annual average youth unemployment rate was 16.4% — double that of 2019. Despite a substantial reduction in youth unemployment from April to December 2020, MA youth unemployment rates for 2021 have been observed to plateau at ~12%. Moreover, it is important to note that these rates often underestimate the scale of unemployment. 

The Problem: No access to stable employment perpetuates a cycle of youth homelessness. This leads to...

Workplace Inequity

An absence of experience and formal training as well as external factors, like institutional racism and discriminatory hiring practices, make it virtually impossible for youth experiencing homelessness to obtain stable, livable, long-term employment.

Wealth Inequality

Without financial resources, displaced youth lack the base funding to find and ultimately maintain permanent housing.

Continued Housing Insecurity

A focus on finding basic necessities like food, shelter, warm clothes, etc, and avoiding abuse forces youths to prioritize day-to-day survival instead of taking steps to improve their current situation.

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