Nine Evidence-Based, Guiding Principles to Help Youth Overcome Homelessness

Homeless Youth Collaborative on Developmental Evaluation,
Avenues for Homeless Youth,
Catholic Charities (Hope Street),
Face to Face (Safe Zone),
Lutheran Social Services (StreetWorks Collaborative),
The Salvation Army (Booth Brown House),
YouthLink (Youth Opportunity Center)
Published: February, 2014
Number of Pages: 
Otto Bremer Foundation

In 2012, six nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities of Minnesota began collaborating to help youth overcome homelessness. These agencies found that their work was undergirded and informed by nine essential principles, and they designed a study to examine the effectiveness of those principles. An independent evaluator conducted 14 in-depth case studies of homeless youth who had interacted with the agencies, and synthesized the findings. Results showed that all the participating organizations were adhering to the principles and that the principles were effective in helping youth make progress out of homelessness. The youths’ stories showed how the staff’s principles-based approaches made a critical difference in their journey through homelessness. In this paper, the authors define each principle, explain why it matters, summarize key research findings, discuss the implications for practice, and conclude with illustrative quotes from the evaluation case studies. Excerpts from the case studies are included to provide an overview of the outcomes youth experienced through engagement with the youth-serving agencies.

Correspondence to: Nora Murphy, MA, PhD, TerraLuna Collaborative; E-mail:, Website:
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