Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act, legislation to reauthorize key federal grant programs to provide states with grants to help thousands of homeless young people nationwide. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY), Don Bacon (R-NE), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).
The landmark Runaway and Homeless Youth Act was first passed by Congress in 1974, providing nationwide support to address youth and young adult homelessness. This reauthorization would expand protections to youths who are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking, and it would authorize funding for state and local programs to help provide transitional housing, street outreach, and crisis intervention programs to address the needs of homeless and runaway youth. It would also raise the authorization of appropriations to $225 million and double the minimum grant allocation provided to small states, from $100,000, to $200,000.
“An estimated 4.2 million young people experience homelessness at some point in a year. As the Chairman of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, I have made it my goal to address homelessness. We must make sure our nation’s homeless youth have the same opportunity to succeed as other youth,” said Senator Collins. “The programs reauthorized by this bill are critical in helping homeless youth stay off the street, avoid abuse, and find stable housing. I look forward to working with Senator Leahy to move this bill through the Senate and House so that the President can sign it into law.”
“No child in America should have to call the street home. Our bill will offer service providers the training and tools they need to best serve young people, to help ensure that they don’t fall victim to human trafficking, and to keep them safe. These are often lifesaving programs, rescuing young lives and giving them crucial lifelines. Our legislation will allow communities in Vermont and across the country to expand their enormously important work,” said Senator Leahy.
This bill is supported by youth advocacy organizations such as the National Network for Youth, which has supported the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act since it was first enacted in 1974.
“No young person in America should ever have to spend one day without a safe place to call home. The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act makes critical improvements to the existing federal RHYA program,” said Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth. “I urge Congress to move this vital legislation swiftly through Congress so we can strengthen our communities’ ability to prevent and respond to youth homelessness and human trafficking. Our youth are counting on us.”
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act would:
· Reauthorize and increase authorization levels for programs under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
· Increase annual competitive grants for rural youth demographics from $100,000 to $200,000
· Require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop every three years a national estimate of the prevalence of homeless youth
· Allow extensions in length of stay in Basic Center Programs (BCP) from 21 days, to up to 30 days