Under close supervision as part of a hands-on pre-apprenticeship training program, YouthBuild students construct or rehabilitate homes for homeless and low-income people in their communities. Projects range from gut rehabilitation or restoration of multi-unit buildings to constructing new homes. Many YouthBuild programs are sponsored by Community Development Corporations that are major developers of local affordable housing. Others partner with affordable housing developers or with Habitat for Humanity International, providing labor for their housing development.
In 2005, YouthBuild USA launched its Green Building Initiative to respond to a growing demand from YouthBuild programs to learn how to construct homes with less environmental impact and greater affordability for occupants.