Housing instability poses a challenge for the positive developmental trajectories of youth. Nevertheless, youth possess the knowledge, fortitude and resiliency to meet the needs and challenges of navigating housing instability. Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) methods coupled with Social Justice Youth Development (SJYD) were utilized with 6 youth experiencing housing instability accessing educational, life skill, and developmental services from a drop-in center. Participants were active members of youth-centered research workshops. Findings reveal the need for increased funding that secures community-based, positive youth development services; an open, fluid workshop structure to offer consistency, yet flexibility for highly mobile youth; and safe spaces in which youth can explore and analyze the socio-political contexts shaping their experiences to inform their approaches in navigating various social systems and structures.
- Social justice youth development approaches support positive development of youth experiencing housing instability.
- YPAR methods create spaces that honor and respect the voices and experiences of youth experiencing housing instability.
- Highlighting youth resilience is important, but should not be replaced by efforts to create and advocate for just systems.
- Exploring racial and class dynamics are necessary to create systems that adequately meet youth’s developmental needs.
SOURCE: Aviles, Ann M. and Grigalunas, Nicole. ““Project Awareness:” Fostering social justice youth development to counter youth experiences of housing instability, trauma and injustice.” Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 84, January 2018, Pages 229–238.
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