FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2018
Darla Bardine, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-239-3122
Eric Masten, email@example.com, 202-596-5935
Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act Introduced in Congress
Washington, D.C. – On Monday, United States Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), joined by Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S.2571). On Tuesday, Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Dave Reichert (R-WA), joined by Jeff Denham (R-CA) introduced the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (H.R. 5339). This critical legislation would reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) – which serves as the nation’s key response to youth and young adults at risk of and experiencing homelessness.
During the 2008 reauthorization of RHYA, the National Network for Youth (NN4Y) successfully ensured the inclusion and subsequent funding of a national study on the incidence and prevalence of youth homelessness in America. Released last fall by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, the study Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America found that 4.2 million youth and young adults in America experienced homelessness on their own in a 12 month period– 3.5 million young adults (aged 18-24) and 700,000 adolescent youth (aged 13-17) – and that youth experienced homelessness at similar rates whether they lived in rural or urban locations.
RHYTPA will continue to provide a national framework for rural, urban and suburban communities to help prevent and respond to youth homelessness. It also makes critical updates to strengthen individual and family efforts to prevent homelessness, ensure that youth are able to access runaway and homeless youth programs for the lengths of time and during ages that are appropriate for their needs, assist youth experiencing homelessness in completing high school and accessing higher education, and ensure proper identification of victims of sex and labor trafficking.
“Runaway and homeless youth programs provide life-saving services to youth all across America, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act makes necessary updates to improve the critical community-based care, housing and counseling that homeless youth and young adults in crisis need to prevent or address homelessness, avoid or leave victimization, reconnect with education and achieve long-term success as adults,” said Darla Bardine, Executive Director of the National Network for Youth.
Leahy said: “In the wealthiest nation on earth, modern day slavery, abuse, and poverty among our most vulnerable youths are still all too common. No child in America should have to call the street home. The Leahy-Collins Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act will reauthorize key initiatives that support runaway and homeless young people and ensure that all have access to these vital and often lifesaving programs. It will offer to service providers the training and tools they need to best serve young people, including those who have been victims of trauma. I urge all senators to join us in reauthorizing this legislation to fulfill our promise to protect our most vulnerable children.”
Collins said: “An estimated 4.2 million young people experience homelessness in the United States each year. As the Chairman of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, I have made it my goal to address chronic homelessness. We must make sure our nation’s homeless youth have the same opportunity to succeed as other youth. The programs reauthorized by this bill are critical in helping homeless youth stay off the street and find stable, sustainable 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.”
“Youth homelessness is an urgent problem in rural and urban areas alike, and this bipartisan bill is an important step in the effort to provide the resources necessary to help these children who find themselves without a permanent home or on the streets,” Heitkamp said. “We know that children and teenagers who run away or resort to couch surfing are at greater risk of being trafficked and exploited, and they lack the support networks and wrap-around services they need to succeed. We must provide them every with opportunity to reach their full potential in a safe and supportive environment. This support must include protections and services for all runaway and homeless youth, especially our LGBT youth who are some of the most vulnerable – that is why I will continue fighting for the necessity of the non-discrimination provision in our bill.”
“More must be done to combat youth homelessness and make sure that young people in America know they’ll always have a place they can turn to for shelter and safety,” said Rep. Yarmuth. “I’m proud Reps. Reichert and Denham are joining me in introducing this important legislation and for creating strong bipartisan support for this effort. When young people become homeless, they aren’t just losing the security of a safe place to sleep, they’re also losing out on opportunities for future success.”
“Often overseen and left behind, runaway children and homeless youth are some of the most vulnerable in our society,” said Rep. Reichert. “Having run away and lived out of my car when I was a teenager, I know just how important it is to have a place to go, and help to turn to. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation to provide opportunities and support when these youth need it most. This is the help that can make all the difference in their lives and set their future path toward success.”
“Homelessness and human trafficking are two of the biggest problems we face in California’s Central Valley,” said Rep. Denham. “I’m working with programs in my community to improve the lives of at-risk youth, and this bill will further empower them to do that — especially when it comes to strengthening trafficking prevention efforts and victim assistance.”
The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act was introduced as participants at NN4Y’s fifth annual National Summit on Youth Homelessness went to Capitol Hill to advocate for policies that prevent and respond to youth and young homelessness.
NN4Y applauds Senators Leahy, Collins and Heitkamp and Representatives Yarmuth, Reichert and Denham for the introduction of RHYTPA, and calls on the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to ensure its swift passage.
For more information, visit the National Network for Youth’s website.
The National Network for Youth (NN4Y) has been a public education and policy advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of youth homelessness in America for over 40 years. As the largest and most diverse network of its kind, NN4Y mobilizes over 300 members and affiliates — organizations that work on the front lines every day to provide prevention services and respond to runaways and youth experiencing homelessness and human trafficking. Learn more at www.nn4youth.org.