A group of graduate students in the Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT) program at Georgetown University won the 6th Annual Public Policy Challenge with a proposal to help young parents experiencing homelessness in DC.
Students Yamel Sarquis Elias (G’20), Kristi Pelzel (G’20), and Brittany Panetta (G’20), won this year’s Public Policy Challenge for their proposal to assist young parents and their children who are experiencing homelessness in DC. Every year, the Georgetown Public Policy Challenge hosted by the McCourt School, calls on graduate students to develop innovative policy solutions that help address a challenge in the local community. The winning team is awarded $2,500 to support implementation of the proposal.
Currently, youth make up a large portion of the District’s homeless population; however, policy labels young parents as adults, making it nearly impossible to adequately count, and account for, young parents experiencing homelessness in DC.
Elias, Pelzel, and Panetta’s proposal includes three steps to assist the underserved and underrepresented population of young parents experiencing homelessness in Washington, DC. The first step calls for changing policy language to include young parents as a vulnerable and growing population. Second, they hope to engage in a continuity of care planning cycle. In doing so, they seek to bring together all relevant stakeholders in the District to collect data and compile input in an inclusive manner to include homeless youth. Finally, they aim to ensure earmarked funds for young parents by lobbying with local representatives, utilizing grassroots efforts, and speaking with the DC council to advocate for young parents experiencing homelessness.
“The Homeless Youth Parents project successfully highlights a critical population of youth parents struggling with poverty and homelessness in the District of Columbia,” said Heidi Tseu, Georgetown’s Director of Local Government Affairs and one of the judges of this year’s Public Policy Challenge. “As the student winners shift towards implementation, I am looking forward to seeing the results of their strategy to educate, demand accountability, and forge new opportunities.”
As Elias, Pelzel, and Panetta stated in their proposal, combatting long-term homelessness requires early intervention, and with adequate funding the students can continue to make a difference in the DC community. .
Other top proposals sought to increase mental health related programming at schools in Fairfax, increase accessibility to bikeshare programs in low-income areas, and address nutritional inequality in Wards 7 and 8.
About the Georgetown Public Policy Challenge
The Georgetown Public Policy Challenge is an interdisciplinary competition that tasks students with developing innovative solutions to policy issues in the Washington, DC region. Now in its 6th year, the Challenge is open to all graduate students at Georgetown University and other policy schools in DC.