March 28, 2022
Driving Awareness About Youth Homelessness
Ignite, a Chicago based non-profit, has been dedicated to supporting homeless youth for 45 years. But they continue to run up against a significant problem that inhibits their ability to deliver services: specifically, how the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines homelessness.
HUD currently defines homelessness by assessing the number of people on the streets and shelters within one night. But homeless youth generally fly under the radar, often by staying on people’s couches: of the 1 in 10 young adults between 18 to 25 who encounter homelessness in a year, half only do so through couch surfing. As such, HUD doesn’t count these youth as homeless, making it much harder for community organizations like Ignite (who rely on the department’s funds) to help them. This problem is only getting worse, especially with COVID-19 having exacerbated housing instability across the US.
Legislation exists to change HUD’s definition, but it had stalled in Congress. That’s why, in the fall of 2021, Greentarget jumped on board to help Ignite draw attention to this legislation and the growing problem of youth homelessness.
The Greentarget team began by engaging Ignite’s Executive and Program & Leadership team members to understand precisely where the HUD issue stood, why it was more important than ever we address it now, and how the Ignite team’s experiences could establish them as authorities on this topic.
From there, we conducted extensive research into the issues at hand and the current media landscape, and interviewed two homeless youth who were using Ignite’s services – knowing that to really illuminate this story, we had to back up our claims with data and place firsthand experiences front and center.
This gave us the foundation to shape media pitches and develop an op-ed geared towards target audiences on Capitol Hill and in Chicago.
- Developed and secured placement of op-ed in The Hill by Stephanie Piccirilli, Ignite’s President & CEO, “Youth homelessness is at record levels – changing how we define it can help”
- The Hill reaches over 15 million visitors each month and is read primarily by opinion leaders, including 100% of Congressional offices, the White House, political pundits, association executives, lobbyists, and corporate leaders—exactly the audience needed to effect real policy change.
- Landed feature story for Ignite with CBS Chicago, “Nonprofit Ignite Chicago Helping Homeless Youth One Comeback Story At A Time”
“Your time and energy make these life-changing programs possible and mean that we can help more young people achieve personal and economic independence and reach their full potential.” – Stephanie Piccirilli, President & CEO, Ignite.