The National Network for Youth (NN4Y) issues the following release in support of the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (H.R.5191/S.2916), which was introduced in the House and Senate today.  

For release: November 20, 2019 
Contact: Darla Bardine, National Network for Youth 
darla.bardine@nn4youth.org, 202-783-7949

The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019 (RHYTPA) was Introduced Today in the U.S. Senate and House

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, November 20, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), and Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY), Representative Don Bacon (R-NE), Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT), and Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) reintroduced the bipartisan and bicameral Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA) of 2019 to fully reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) (42 U.S.C. 5701 et. seq.). 

The National Network for Youth (NN4Y) has been actively leading the reauthorization of RHYA in collaboration with its national and local partners and young leaders with lived experiences of homelessness. NN4Y applauds this landmark legislation as a monumental step to ensuring that more youth, young adults, and young families experiencing homelessness have a safe place to call home and are able to avoid being trafficked for sex, labor, or both. 

“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 and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019 ((H.R.5191/S.2916) reflects NN4Y’s values of ensuring that youth, young adults, and young families remain at the forefront of the movements to reduce homelessness and human trafficking in America.  The changes that RHYTPA would enact reflect the unique needs of young people experiencing homelessness and would increase their ability to access pathways to independence, socioeconomic mobility and success. RHYTPA helps to achieve these goals by making key updates to the existing program, such as: 

  • Extending the allowable length of stays in Basic Center Programs from 21 to 30 days (or longer as state law allows) and increasing the number of allowable beds to 20
  • Ensuring Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion assistance
  • Increasing age eligibility for services up to the age of 25 in Transitional Living Programs
  • Comprehensive nondiscriminatory practices across all RHYA funded programs
  • Programs and services will also ensure staff training on human trafficking, trauma, sexual abuse and assault
  • Basic Center Programs are to engage in outreach with victims of sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking in persons, or sex trafficking
  • Practicable services will be extended for victims of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking in persons or sex trafficking as part of Transitional Living Programs 

US. CONGRESSIONAL CHAMPIONS
“Young people in America deserve the security and shelter of a roof over their head and a place to call home. I am proud to help lead this bipartisan, bicameral effort to protect vulnerable and at-risk youth, providing them with the services and resources they need to ensure their safety and future success in life. We must improve our nation’s response to our runaway and homeless youth crisis, which makes it absolutely vital that Congress pass this legislation and reauthorize these important programs,” said Congressman Yarmuth (D-KY).

“Statistics show that youth lacking a high school education or who identify as LGBT are more likely to experience homelessness or end up as victims of human trafficking. We want to ensure access to services for all Americans who need it as well as empower all entities who are committed to helping vulnerable people. Our bill will provide solutions to address these problems and lack of supports,” said Congressman Bacon (R-NE).

“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 (R-ME).  “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.”

Senator Leahy (D-VT) said:  “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.” 

PREVALENCE OF YOUTH HOMELESSNESS & HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN AMERICA
Youth Homelessness is a pressing national crisis taking place across urban, suburban, rural and tribal communities throughout every corner of our country. In 2017, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago reported that 4.2 million 13 to 24 year olds experienced homelessness during a 12 month period. In addition, according to a study by Covenant House International on the intersections of youth homelessness and human trafficking, between 19%-40% of young people experiencing homelessness are also trafficked for sex, labor or both. RHYTPA is a pivotal step towards strengthening the federal response youth and young adult homelessness and human trafficking. 

ABOUT THE RUNAWAY AND HOMELESS YOUTH ACT
This year marks 45 years that the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) (42 U.S.C. 5701 et seq.) has been providing federal grants to communities to provide critical services to homeless and runaway youth. In every American community, youth run away from home, are kicked out of their home, or exit the juvenile justice or child welfare system with nowhere to go.  RHYA provides three different grants to community-based organizations to reach out to youth experiencing homelessness on the streets, provide crisis intervention housing, basic life necessities, family interventions and longer-term housing options when necessary.  

ABOUT THE NATIONAL NETWORK FOR YOUTH
The National Network for Youth (NN4Y), founded in 1974, is the nation’s leading network of youth homelessness community based service providers, faith-based organizations, young leaders, advocates, and allies. The Network champions the needs of runaway, homeless, and other disconnected youth through strengthening the capacity of community-based services, facilitating resource sharing, and educating the public and policy makers about the needs of youth experiencing homelessness. NN4Y’s members work collaboratively to prevent youth homelessness and the inherent risks of homelessness, including sexual exploitation, human trafficking, criminal justice involvement, or premature death. For more information, visit www.nn4youth.org.

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