Leahy, Collins, Yarmuth, Bacon And Others Reintroduce Bipartisan And Bicameral Bill To Help Runaway And Homeless Youth

WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, Nov. 20, 2019) – Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Representatives John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.),and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) Wendesday reintroduced the bipartisan Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act.  The legislation will reauthorize key federal grant programs to provide states with grants to help thousands of homeless young people nationwide.

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.

Leahy 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.”

“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.”

Yarmuth said:  “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.”

Bacon said:  “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.”

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

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.

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Press Contact

Leahy: David Carle: 202-224-3693

Collins: Annie Clark: 202-224-2523

Yarmuth: Christopher Schuler: 202-225-5401

Bacon: Danielle Jensen: 402-938-0293