Pages tagged "Housing & Homelessness"
Public Schools Report Highest Number of Homeless Students on Record, While HUD Claims Reduction in Family and Youth Homelessness
Washington, DC – Data released today by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grossly underestimate family and youth homelessness in the United States, according to service providers, educators, and child advocates.
HUD’s 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part I (AHAR) estimates that on a single night in January 2018, more than 180,000 parents and children were experiencing homelessness. According to HUD’s numbers, this is an 2% decrease from 2017, and a 23% decrease since 2007.
However, other public systems report significant increases in child and family homelessness. For example, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 1,354,363 homeless children and youth were identified in the 2016-2017 school year by public schools – a 4% increase from the 2015-2016 school year and a 70% increase from the 2007-2008 school year – the highest number on record. Head Start programs also reported record levels of homeless children, from 26,200 homeless children in 2007-2008 to 52,764 in 2016-2017 – a 100% increase.
The 2018 AHAR also claims that that 36,361 unaccompanied youth under age 25 were experiencing homelessness, and that 2019 will be the ‘baseline year’ for youth who experience homelessness on their own (unaccompanied homeless youth). Public schools reported 118,364 unaccompanied homeless youth, an increased of 6% since the 2015-2016 school year, the highest number on record. Last year’s first-of-its kind study on unaccompanied youth homelessness in America, Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America, found that 4.2 million young people experienced unaccompanied homelessness over a 12 month period.
HUD’s data and methodology account for only a fraction of families and youth experiencing homelessness:
- HUD’s “Point in Time” (PIT) count only measures the number of people who are in shelter or transitional housing, or who are seen during street counts. However, most families and youth who are homeless do not stay in shelters, transitional housing, or on the streets.
- Of the 1.3 million homeless children and youth identified by public schools, only 3.7% were unsheltered, and 13.9% were staying in shelters. The rest were in motels, or staying temporarily with others due to lack of alternatives.
- Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America found that of the 3.5 million 18-24 year-olds and 700,000 13-17 year-olds who experienced homelessness, nearly three quarters stayed with others while lacking a home of their own – a form of homelessness that is not included in HUD’s limited methodology.
- Shelters and transitional housing are often full, unable to serve families as a unit, do not accept unaccompanied minor youth, or simply do not exist in too many communities. When families and youth are not able to access shelter, they are less likely to be included in HUD’s counts.
- Homeless families are less likely than single adults to stay on the streets and other outdoor locations where they can be included in PIT counts, often because they are afraid of having their children being removed from their custody. Unaccompanied homeless youth fear interactions with authorities and exploitation from older adults.
- For these reasons, families and youth are much more likely to stay temporarily with other people, or in motels – situations that are very unstable, often unsafe, and put them at risk of trafficking. These more hidden forms of homelessness have been shown to have impacts that are just as negative as being homeless ‘on the streets.’
- HUD has decreased funding for transitional housing, especially for families and youth. Since 2010, there has been a loss of 5,430 temporary beds for families (shelter and transitional housing). This does not equate to a reduction in family and youth homelessness – it equates to a reduction in capacity to serve families and youth experiencing homelessness.
The bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA), H.R. 1511/S. 611, addresses these shortcomings in HUD’s counts, and makes other improvements in federal policies to serve homeless families and youth. It aligns HUD’s definition of homelessness with those of other federal agencies and permits communities to use HUD homeless funding more flexibly to assess and serve the most vulnerable homeless children, youth and families identified in their area.
HCYA was approved by the House Financial Services Committee on a bipartisan basis in July. While the legislation focuses on children and youth, it ultimately will reduce homelessness among all populations by helping to prevent today’s homeless children and youth from becoming tomorrow’s homeless adults. The hundreds of organizations supporting HCYA—service providers, educators, and child advocates—urge Congress to approve the bill without delay, allowing communities to accurately identify the children, youth, and adults experiencing homelessness and to tailor local responses to effectively serve their needs.
Service providers and advocates issued the following statements in response to HUD’s release:
“We consistently see providers across the country, in all different kinds of communities, cite consistent or increased demand for services. The failure to count highly vulnerable children as homeless despite precarious and dangerous housing is short-sighted and illogical. This official assessment is at odds with observation, logic, and compassion.”
-Claas Ehlers, CEO of Family Promise
“The PIT (Point in Time) count grossly underestimates the numbers of families experiencing homelessness by excluding hundreds of thousands of children and families living in garages and basements or couches of other people. Since the PIT count drives policy and funding, this does an extreme disservice to these families, and undermines the shared goal of achieving housing stability and family well-being.”
-Ellen Bassuk, Founder and Senior Technical Advisor at The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
“We cannot stand aside and ignore the trauma that so many homeless children and youth are facing in our country. What we can do is take immediate steps by passing common-sense, bipartisan solutions like the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511/S. 611), which would acknowledge their trauma and help them get the support they need. ”
-Bruce Lesley, president, First Focus Campaign for Children
“The nation’s public schools and early childhood programs have witnessed a persistent increase in the numbers of homeless children and youth over the past decade. Schools are better positioned to know who is experiencing homelessness because they must serve all homeless children and youth, regardless of shelter capacity, and because they use a definition of homelessness that matches reality. The urgency of child and youth homelessness requires changes in HUD’s definition, data, and program models to meet the unique developmental needs of children and youth.”
-Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection
“HUD’s homelessness data is highly suspect, inherently biased against families, and used to support the continuation of failed policy. The federal government should not put it out to characterize trends in overall homelessness when other federal agency data tell a different story. The communities and the families and kids that we work find little comfort in government assertions that things are getting better when they see more people needing shelter, families being refused services, and growing waiting lists.”
-Paul Webster, National Coalition for Homelessness Solutions
“Americans are paying closer attention to youth and young adult homelessness than ever before, and they deserve access to the most accurate information. As last year’s nationally representative survey showing 4.2 million youth and young adult experiencing homelessness demonstrates, HUD’s PIT count falls woefully short in providing an accurate assessment of how many young people are experiencing homelessness across America. Beyond reforms to the PIT count, Congress should fund the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct another nationally representative study of youth and young adult homelessness, and communities should build on the success of local ‘youth counts’ to better understand the nature of the challenge in their community.”
-Eric Masten, National Network for Youth
The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth connects and supports people in communities across the nation who are responding to child, youth, and family homelessness. The National Network to End Family Homelessness, an initiative of the Bassuk Center, is a provider-led response to the growing issue of child, youth, and family homelessness. Made-up of over 350 providers working directly with families across all 50 states and D.C., the Network brings evidence-based programs to every community where families experience homelessness and mobilizes political will to end this national tragedy. For more information, see http://www.bassukcenter.org/national-network/
Family Promise is comprised more than 200 Affiliates in 43 states, with more in development. Family Promise programs involve more than 200,000 volunteers to address a national crisis at a local level. Affiliates provide homelessness prevention assistance to at-risk families, shelter and meals when families lose their homes, and comprehensive case management and stabilization initiatives for families once they have been rehoused. Family Promise serves more than 90,000 family members annually and has served more than 850,000 people nationwide since their inception 30 years ago. For more information, visit https://familypromise.org
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.
The National Coalition for Homelessness Solutions is a provider-initiated and provider-led coalition dedicated to making policy changes that support homeless families, children, and youth. For more information, visit http://solvefamilyhomelessness.org
The National Network for Youth (NN4Y) has been a public education and policy advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of youth homelessness in America for over 40 years. As the largest and most diverse network of its kind, NN4Y mobilizes over 300 members and affiliates — organizations that work on the front lines every day to provide prevention services and respond to runaways and youth experiencing homelessness and human trafficking. For more information, visit www.nn4youth.org.
SchoolHouse Connection is a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. SchoolHouse Connection engages in strategic advocacy and provides technical assistance in partnership with early care and education professionals (including school district homeless liaisons and state homeless education coordinators), young people, service providers, advocates, and local communities. For more information, visit www.schoolhouseconnection.org
Statements from Local Family Service Providers on 2018 HUD Point In Time (PIT) Counts
“In terms of capacity and need, we continue to see families needing access to our emergency shelter. In 2016 and 2017 we served over 200 families, which represents some of highest numbers in our organization’s thirty-two-year history. In 2018, we’ve already had 555 families call for services to be placed on our waitlist. As a shelter that only can serve 21 families at a time. The volume and need locally can be overwhelming at times.”
"Philadelphia's PIT numbers under-report thousands of youth and families who experience homelessness. The School District identified 6,583 children and youth who experienced homelessness in the 2016-2017 School Year, compared to the 1,508 children under 18 years of age identified by the PIT count in FY 2017. As a result, Philadelphia devotes very few resources to addressing youth homelessness. In addition, the City turns away families from accessing emergency housing, but does not consider that number in its PIT calculations. These experiences thwart Philadelphia's ability to adequately address family and youth homelessness."
“Saint John's operates the largest shelter in the region and the only one focused exclusively on homeless women and children. We have increased our capacity by over 30% in the last 14 months, from 180 women and children daily, to 270 daily. However, in spite of being able to serve more women and children daily, our waiting list has held steady at 250 women and children for the past four years.”
“We get as many as 175 calls in a month from homeless women seeking shelter. Over half are women with children. Sadly our family program is small and in Baltimore many of the available shelter programs to families have shut their doors in past years. I worry that these women and their children are forced to stay in unsafe conditions and with unsafe people due to the lack of resources in our community. I am sure most of them are living among the hidden homeless and not being ‘counted’ in our local PIT count.”
-Katie Allston, Executive Director, Marian House, 410-467-4121 *229,[email protected]
“Santa Barbara County’s most recent Point in Time count (2017) of homeless people does not even bother to break out the number of homeless families in the county; it only reports on gender and age. The report even states that due to HUD regulations, many people who are homeless in the County are not able to be included. Yet in 2017, the Santa Barbara Unified School District stated that 14.3 percent of its students are classified as homeless, according to U.S. Department of Education’s definition of homelessness. In the last five years, Transition House has consistently maintained a waitlist for its 70-bed shelter of 25 to 50 families at a time. Based on the need we are seeing, we find the school district’s assessment of homelessness a much more accurate picture than HUD’s.”
-Kathleen Baushke, Executive Director, Transition House, Santa Barbara, CA, 805-966-9668, [email protected]
“We get an average of 6-8 calls a day for people who are homeless and in need of services. Unfortunately, sleeping in cars or living in hotels doesn’t qualify as an emergency enough to receive funds for our program.”
Any policies that affect children should base their foundations on the best interests of the child.
Blueprint Shows How 116th Congress Can Act on the Best Interests of Children (more…)
Statement: Advocates Applaud Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Help Most Vulnerable Homeless Children and Youth
- Simona Combi, Media Relations Director, [email protected]
- Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, Schoolhouse Connection, [email protected]
- Eric Masten, Director of Public Policy, National Network for Youth: [email protected]
- Cara Bradshaw, Chief Impact Officer, Family Promise: [email protected]
- Chris Kaul, Director of Communications, Family Promise: [email protected]
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
July 19, 2018, Washington, D.C.—In a year marked by partisanship, several Members of Congress stood out as Champions and Defenders of children, according to the 2017 Legislative Scorecard released by First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC), a national bipartisan children’s advocacy group.
“Even though child advocates had to defend a whole range of legislative and regulatory attacks on children, we identified 120 Members of Congress who chose to make children a priority. We commend their leadership and hope they will inspire their colleagues to do the same,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children.
Of note is that, in the 115th Congress, women are 2.6 times more likely to be named a champion or defender of children than men.
The 2017 Champions for Children Scorecard includes key votes on health-related bills and amendments to tax legislation, including two House votes on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, two Senate votes on child tax credit amendments, and four votes between the two chambers on the Affordable Care Act.
For instance, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017 (P.L. 115-97) will increase the deficit by approximately $1.5 trillion, which the next generation will pay off well into the future. The deficit will also trigger cuts to numerous programs vital to children, including Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered an amendment to further expand the CTC by increasing its refundability (make it refundable against payroll taxes), which would have benefitted lower income families. Sadly, despite 68 senators voting for it, the amendment did not pass as senators failed to overcome opposition from Senate leadership and the Trump Administration.
In July 2017, the Senate voted down the “Health Care Freedom Act” (H.R. 1628), which would have resulted in an estimated 16 million Americans losing health coverage and a 20 percent increase in insurance premiums. The First Focus Campaign for Children strongly opposed the bill, and we thank all the members of the Senate who voted against it, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John McCain (R-AZ).
Out of 90 bills that FFCC is tracking, The Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2017 (S.1630/H.R.3381), would mandate that the federal government create a plan to cut the number of children in poverty by half in ten years and to eliminate child poverty in twenty years. That legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), who accumulated the most points in the Senate and House for their votes and work on legislation for children.
This is First Focus Campaign for Children’s eighth annual class of Champions and Defenders for Children.
Champions for Children
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
- Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
- Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
- Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
- Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
- Rep. Lou Correa(D-CA)
- Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
- Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
- Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)
- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
- Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
- Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
- Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL)
- Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
- Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI)
- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
- Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
- Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
- Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
- Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
- Rep. James McGovern (D-MA)
- Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
- Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
- Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
- Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
- Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
- Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
- Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
- Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL)
- Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Defenders of Children
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
- Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA)
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
- Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
- Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
- Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)
- Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
- Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
- Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA)
- Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
- Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
- Rep. André Carson (D-IN)
- Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
- Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
- Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA)
- Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
- Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
- Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)
- Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
- Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL)
- Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)
- Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
- Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX)
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
- Rep. John Katko (R-NY)
- Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)
- Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)
- Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ)
- Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI)
- Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI)
- Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
- Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
- Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
- Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)
- Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
- Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
- Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA)
- Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL)
- Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA)
- Rep. José Serrano (D-NY)
- Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL)
- Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
- Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
- Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA)
- Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)
- Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions.
First Focus Campaign for Children released its 2017 Champions Scorecard. In an attempt to recognize the lawmakers in the First Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, to improve the lives of our nation’s children through the policy process, we are pleased to present awards to 120 legislators who have made children a priority.
The 2017 Champions for Children Scorecard includes key votes on health-related bills and amendments to tax legislation, including two House votes on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, two Senate votes on child tax credit amendments, and four votes between the two chambers on the Affordable Care Act. Learn more and view the report at www.championsforchildren2017.com.
Thank legislators who put the needs of children over politics, and share this scorecard resource by using our social media kit.
Our nation’s children face an array of problems, including poverty, violence, abuse, neglect, hunger, poor nutrition, education inequity, homelessness, lack of health coverage, infant and child mortality, and family separations in mixed-status households. These obstacles demand attention, policy solutions, political will, and action that to make children a priority.
Unfortunately, kids are far too often an afterthought in Congress. The problem is that children can’t vote and don’t have Political Action Committees (PACs) that garner and demand attention.
Children need Champions and Defenders, who are willing to focus on, support, raise their voices, and attach their name to legislation that would improve the lives of our nation’s children and actively oppose legislation that would harm kids.
In an attempt to recognize the lawmakers in the First Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, to improve the lives of our nation’s children through the policy process, we are pleased to present our Champions and Defenders for Children Scorecard.
See also the previous award recipients:
The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system. The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care.
Today, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago released a groundbreaking report that provided hard evidence to back this up. In their report, Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America, researchers found that each year over four million young people in the U.S. experience homelessness on their own. This breaks down to 1 in 30 youth (ages 13-17) and 1 in 10 young adults (ages 18-25).
These youth and young adults are living in extremely precarious and often invisible situations. Two-thirds of the youth reported couch-surfing or other less visible forms of homelessness at some point. This was particularly true in rural communities, where the rate of youth homelessness was just as high as in urban and suburban communities.
These less visible forms of homelessness mean that youth are often invisible to public systems, putting them at high risk of harm, abuse and neglect, including trafficking. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, runaway/homeless and unstable housing statuses are among the top five risk factors for human trafficking.
These numbers are devastating and these youth and young adults deserve an immediate, robust, and cross-sector response. Solutions must include changing the paradigm of federal homeless assistance in the U.S. as well as building on the programs that are working through increased investment and resources.
Pass the Homeless Children & Youth Act (S. 611/H.R. 1511)
This bipartisan legislation would increase the visibility of homeless youth and allow communities to use federal homeless assistance funds to serve them. Currently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses a narrow definition of homelessness that doesn’t include couch-surfing and other less visible situations, so many homeless youth and young adults are excluded from receiving critical homeless assistance services. The Homeless Children & Youth Act would restore local decision-making so that communities can identify less visible homeless youth and work with other systems to connect youth with developmentally appropriate services.
Reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs provide vital services to homeless and runaway youth such as emergency housing with crisis intervention, basic life necessities, family interventions and when necessary, longer-term housing options including maternity group homes.
Yet these programs are long overdue for reauthorization. The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act will soon be reintroduced in Congress and will not only reauthorize these programs, but improve their effectiveness in stabilizing homeless youth across the country, whether they are in urban, suburban or rural communities.
Support Homeless and Foster Youth in Accessing Higher Education
We know that higher education is a critical gateway to help these youth & young adults find stability and escape homelessness. Yet too many homeless and foster youth face barriers to higher education and if they are able to attend a college or university, they often face hardships that make it extremely difficult to complete their studies and graduate.
Legislation such as the Higher Education Access and Success Act for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (S. 1795/H.R. 3740) and the Fostering Success in Higher Education Act (S. 1792/H.R. 3742) would help homeless and foster youth access higher education through removing barriers to financial aid, as well as increase support on campuses through housing assistance and resources to connect students to services.
Increase Investments to Stabilize Families and Prevent Homelessness
For many youth and young adults who become homeless on their own, they had first experienced homelessness or housing instability with their family. Nearly a third of youth also had come into contact with the child welfare system and nearly half had been in juvenile detention, jail or prison.
This means that in order to break the cycle of youth and young adult homelessness, we need investments in programs and resources that strengthen families and prevent incidents of homelessness, child welfare involvement and interactions with the criminal justice system. We must build on what works, and double-down on programs that provide cash assistance, mental health and trauma-informed care, substance abuse treatment, job training, rental assistance, affordable child care and pre-k, nutrition assistance and more.
For more information and to take action:
Dr. Matthew Desmond on Capitol Hill with First Focus (July 19, 2017)
WASHINGTON--In a briefing on Capitol Hill today sponsored by First Focus and honorary co-host Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5), Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist Matthew Desmond and a group of experts discussed the harmful impact of the housing crisis on children.
Each year, millions of families in the US are evicted from their homes. Families with children are evicted at much higher rates, and children who experience eviction often face high rates of mobility and unstable living environments that can have a negative impact on their education, physical health, mental health, and interpersonal relationships.
“We must address the affordable rental housing crisis by providing homes that are both safe and affordable,” said Rep. Ellison. “It is wrong to force families to choose between affordable housing or safe housing. Millions of parents and children are affected by the housing crisis – in Minnesota, more than 60% of low and middle income renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent. That’s unacceptable.”
At the briefing, First Focus Campaign for Children released 11 policy recommendations to support children and families facing eviction and boost housing stability. They include increasing the supply of affordable housing, expanding access to civil legal services, passing the Homeless Children and Youth Act (S.611/H.R.1511), and strengthening and protecting vital programs such as Medicaid, CHIP, and TANF. [See the full list].
“Interventions to support children and families who have been evicted must acknowledge all of the barriers to stability, and address both the reasons why the family was evicted as well as the trauma experienced as a result of the eviction,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.
During the event, Desmond shared stories from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which details the plight of eight households in Milwaukee caught up in the vicious cycle of eviction. To conduct the research, Desmond spent years living among Milwaukee’s low income families who struggle to afford and maintain stable housing.