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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Announces Launch of Public Awareness Campaign: “Path to Help”

For immediate release:
11/24/2021
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services
  • MA Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces Launch of Public Awareness Campaign: “Path to Help”

Kayla Rosario-Muñoz, Media Relations Manager, Executive Office of Health and Human Services

press release

BostonThe Baker-Polito Administration, with the MA Commission on Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth announced today the launch of “Path to Help”, a statewide public awareness campaign to encourage youth and young adults without a safe or stable place to stay to self-identify when they need help and connect to trustworthy and reliable resources designed to support them, such as calling 211 or visiting mass.gov/PathToHelp. This is the first statewide awareness campaign in the nation directed at youth experiencing homelessness or housing instability. “Path to Help” will run through the holidays into January to raise awareness and support for programs that work to prevent and end youth homelessness in Massachusetts.

The Homeless Youth Awareness and Connection Campaign is part of the MA Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ (EOHHS) implementation of the MA Plan to End Youth Homelessness. In 2021, EOHHS dedicated $8 million to provide emergency shelter and housing, outreach, case management, prevention and housing stabilization, college support, and other vital services to this vulnerable population.

Every region in Massachusetts has emergency shelter and housing set aside specifically for young adults, in addition to the existing adult shelter system. A complete list of locations of young adult emergency beds and housing stabilization supports plus other state-funded resources for young adults may be found on the campaign webpage mass.gov/PathToHelp.

“The time between the moment a young person finds themselves without a safe or stable place to stay and the moment they reach out for help can be an extremely scary and vulnerable time,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “We want young adults to know there are options other than a couch, a park bench, or the back seat of a car, and there are supports available to get them on a path towards stability.”

Every year, approximately 3,800 unaccompanied youth and young adults are identified in Massachusetts as experiencing homelessness. These young people find themselves couch surfing, sleeping on the streets, or staying in shelters because home isn’t safe, home isn’t supportive, or home doesn’t exist. Some young adults do not reach out for help for many months or years, for reasons that include not knowing that help exists, not thinking of themselves as qualifying for support, or just not wanting anyone to know their situation.

When discussing what more could be done to help young people, one young adult who experienced homelessness in their late teens commented, “I wish I had known what the resources were—what places provided what help. I would have [gone to get services] at the moment I got kicked out.”1

This crisis has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Since March 2020, youth have endured crises stemming from being out of school buildings, losing access to regular connections and supports, extreme isolation and escalating tensions at home. Through targeted prevention strategies and early intervention programs, organizations across the state are working to support youth in crisis and prevent and end youth homelessness.

“It is critical that we engage as many communities as possible to support young adults and keep them safe and off the streets,” said Linn Torto, Executive Director of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness. “During the pandemic, we have seen significant additional stressors on young people and their networks, and we want them to know that the Commonwealth has reliable and trustworthy supports to offer.”

A 2020 Special Report to the MA Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission reports that the most common reasons for young adults to not live with their parents or guardian are related to family conflict. Fighting with a parent or guardian, being told to leave, wanting to leave, and abuse or neglect, were among the top reasons young people cited for not living with their family. The work to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness in MA seeks to widen and deepen the safety net available to young people who have nowhere else to turn.

For more information on the Path to Help awareness campaign, visit mass.gov/PathToHelp.

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Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces Launch of Public Awareness Campaign: “Path to Help”

Executive Office of Health and Human Services 

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is the largest secretariat in state government and is comprised of 12 agencies, in addition to 2 soldiers’ homes and the MassHealth program. Our efforts are focused on the health, resilience, and independence of the one in four residents of the Commonwealth we serve. Our public health programs touch every community in the Commonwealth.

MA Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission 

The Massachusetts Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth was established through Outside Section 208 of the Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) Budget, signed into law on July 8, 2012. The UHY Commission was then reconstituted through Chapter 450 of the Acts of 2014.17 The purpose of the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth is to study and make recommendations regarding services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts, to ultimately provide comprehensive and effective responses to the unique needs of this population.”
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