Leahy, Collins Introduce Bipartisan Runaway And Homeless Youth And Trafficking Prevention Act
. . . Legislation Will Provide Vital Services To Homeless Teens
WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, July 23, 2014) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to curb youth homelessness that affects 1.6 million teens throughout the country.
The Leahy-Collins Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act reauthorizes a critical federal grant program established to help states and local communities address the needs of runaway and homeless youth in both urban and rural areas. The bill also extends the Transitional Living Program, which provides longer-term residential services, life skills, education, and employment support to older homeless youth. The proposal also reauthorizes the Street Outreach Program, a community-based program that focuses on crisis intervention.
The reauthorization measure includes important new language to combat human trafficking, as well as a non-discrimination clause to prohibit any grantee from discriminating against a child based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This new language would provide critical protection for the approximately 40 percent of homeless youth who identify as LGBT.
Leahy, who has long been a champion of youth services provided by the original Runaway and Homeless Youth Protection Act and fought for its reauthorization in 1998 and again in 2003, urged all Senators to support the bipartisan legislation. The bill is supported by the National Network for Youth, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking, the True Colors Fund and the Human Rights Campaign, among many others.
“Supporting our youth when they are most in need, and helping to get them back on their feet benefits us all,” Leahy said. “Homeless children are less likely to finish school, more likely to enter our juvenile justice system, and are ill-equipped to find a job. The services authorized by this bill are designed to intervene early and encourage the development of successful, productive young adults.”
“Despite the recent decline we have seen in chronic homelessness, there are still more than 1.6 million homeless teens in the United States,” Collins said. “As the Ranking Member 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 quickly move this bill through the Senate and House so that the President can sign it into law.”
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Vermont Coalition on Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs
Calvin Smith, Director
Spectrum Youth and Family Services
Mark Redmond, Executive Director
Youth Services Bureau/Boys & Girls Club
Kreig Pinkham, Executive Director
David Carle: 202-224-3693
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