03.19.18

Leahy And Collins Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill To Combat Youth Homelessness And Trafficking

. . . Bipartisan Effort Would Support The 4.2 Million Adolescents And Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) Monday reintroduced their bipartisan bill to curb youth homelessness and support young victims of trafficking.  The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA), which is also cosponsored by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), would reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and continue authority for grants to communities across the nation to prevent and respond to youth and young adult homelessness.

Their bill makes a priority of tackling these problems in both rural and urban states and communities.  The problem of youth homelessness exists at similar rates in both rural and urban communities, with a 2017 study finding that 4.2 million adolescents and young adults experienced homelessness in the previous year.  Research also shows that homeless youth are more likely to fall victim to sex trafficking.

The bill includes training for service providers to identify victims of trafficking, and it includes a provision that bars grantees from denying services based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  In addition to funding support for homeless youth, RHYTPA also addresses the root causes of homelessness among young people by providing education continuation programs, support for young parents and access to services for LGBT youth, who are twice as likely as their peers to experience homelessness.

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.  Our bill 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.”

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