[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee and Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today applauded the Committee’s advancement of the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019 – bipartisan legislation that will empower Washington state to strengthen and expand services for young people suffering from homelessness. In November, Jayapal joined House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (KY-03) and U.S. Representatives and Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and Don Bacon (NE-02) to introduce the bill in the House. Jayapal also serves on the House Budget Committee.
At the Committee’s markup of the bill today, Jayapal delivered remarks that highlighted the importance of this bill to vulnerable youth in Washington state. On any given night, almost 1,100 unaccompanied youth and young adults experience homelessness in King County. This number does not include young parents or minors whose families are experiencing homelessness. 40,365 students in Washington state’s K-12 schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-18 academic year. In 2016, the Washington Office of Homeless Youth estimated there were approximately 13,000 unaccompanied homeless youth ages 12-24 in Washington State.
“The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019 strengthens important protections for LGBTQ youth, improves outreach to disadvantaged youth, allows youth to stay in temporary housing for longer, and provides other vital social services,” said Jayapal. “For more than 40 years, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program has served youth facing circumstances beyond their control—poverty, stagnant wages, institutionalized racism, homophobia, as well as underfunded systems of foster care, affordable housing, mental health care and education. This bipartisan, bicameral bill doubles federal investment in this critical program, helping us meet our moral responsibility to protect vulnerable youth from harm and help them get on their feet.”
In addition to reauthorizing and doubling funding – from $150 million to $300 million – for federal youth homelessness programs, the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019:
- Ensures that federal programs for homeless youth do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.
- Ensures programs are culturally, developmentally, linguistically, and gender appropriate, and puts a greater focus on trauma-informed services;
- Ensures outreach programs are designed to attract youth who have limited English language abilities and/or are members of a cultural minority;
- Ensures a greater focus on reaching vulnerable homeless youth living in the streets, including those who have experienced human trafficking;
- Increases allowable length of stay in temporary housing for minors from 21 to 30 days; and,
- Broadens the definition of trafficking to include labor trafficking, not just sex trafficking.
To read the fact sheet on the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019, click here. U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.