Statement: Advocates Applaud Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Help Most Vulnerable Homeless Children and Youth


Bill Can Remove Barriers to Federal Homeless Assistance

Washington, D.C., July 24, 2018—First Focus Campaign for Children, Schoolhouse Connection, National Network for Youth and Family Promise celebrate today’s bipartisan passage of the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511) in the House Financial Services Committee.

We applaud Congressman Steve Stivers (D-OH-15) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2) for their leadership in introducing this common-sense legislation, which would remove barriers to federal homeless assistance for many of our nation’s most vulnerable homeless children and youth.

Groundbreaking research released by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago in the Voices of Youth Count initiative last fall shows that 4.2 million young people experienced homelessness in America over a 12-month period. Nearly three-quarters of the young people who experienced “literal homelessness” (sleeping on the streets, in a car, or in a shelter) also said they had stayed with others while experiencing homelessness. Over half said they did not feel safe. Additionally, this research showed that young people experience homelessness at similar rates in rural and urban communities.

Nearly 1.3 million homeless students were identified by the U.S. Department of Education in the most recent school year, with an increasing number of homeless youth living on their own.  Most of these children and youth are invisible in their communities and are forced to stay in rundown motels or on other people’s couches or floors. These hidden homeless situations are often unsafe, putting children and youth at high risk of trafficking, violence, and neglect.

The Homeless Children and Youth Act recognizes the lived reality for these families and youth and would allow providers to flexibly use federal homeless assistance to assess and serve the most vulnerable homeless children and youth in their community. It would also allow communities to provide help tailored to the unique needs of each homeless population in their community, including housing and service models most appropriate and effective for youth and families.

In addition to our groups, over 50 national organizations and hundreds of state and local organizations who work closest with homeless families and youth support this legislation. The Homeless Children and Youth Act also has strong bipartisan support in the Senate – S. 611 is led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH).

Today’s vote was a big step towards ensuring that today’s homeless children and youth don’t become tomorrow’s homeless adults. We urge Congress to act quickly to pass this critical legislation.

“First Focus Campaign for Children applauds Congressman Steve Stivers and other lawmakers who put politics aside today and together took action to support some of our nation’s most vulnerable homeless children and youth. The Homeless Children and Youth Act will allow communities to use available resources more effectively to address the unique developmental needs of homeless children and youth. We look forward to continuing to work with Members of Congress on final passage of this important legislation.” – Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus Campaign for Children

“We applaud the House Financial Services Committee for recognizing what homelessness actually looks like for youth and for families, the harm it causes, and the perilous path it creates to adult homelessness. The passage of the Homeless Children and Youth Act will align HUD homeless assistance with the efforts of other federal agencies, and allow communities to fund programs that meet the complex needs of children, youth, and families. In doing so, it will ensure the most effective use of resources. We urge its swift passage.” – Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, Schoolhouse Connection

"NN4Y applauds the Financial Services Committee for moving HCYA forward in a bipartisan manner. This important policy reform will ensure that local communities can provide the interventions that are most needed in their community, and that work best for young people and families experiencing homelessness, such as those served by our members. HCYA will improve access for our most vulnerable, and help local communities to better coordinate in identifying, assessing and serving all person experiencing any form of homelessness." – Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth (NN4Y)

“HCYA will have a direct impact on children and their families in all 43 states in which we have programs. We believe not only will it help our most vulnerable children escape the trauma of homelessness, it will also give those local communities greater discretion in finding the most effective solutions to their most serious problems. Thank you to the committee for supporting a common sense, compassionate, and effective bill to help children and youth. Claas Ehlers, CEO, Family Promise

Housing & Homelessness Press Release

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