Issue: Federal Advocacy

Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act

The Problem

Youth homelessness in the United States is a national crisis in urban, suburban and rural communities affecting nearly 2.8 million youth between the ages of 12 and 24. Furthermore, consistent research finds that gay and transgender youth are over-represented among homeless youth, comprising anywhere between 20 and 39 percent of the total homeless youth population even though they make up less than 10 percent of the overall youth population.

 

The consequences of homeless youth in the United States, particularly for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, are far reaching and range from issues in mental and physical health, sexual abuse and exploitation, chemical and alcohol dependency, educational attainment, to social stigma, discrimination and family rejection. Growing up with no critical family and social safety nets result in catastrophic consequences for economic stability, educational attainment and life expectancy. Little support exists at the federal level to provide support for programs that improve family relationships and reduce homelessness among LGBT youth. As a result, homeless youth, particularly LGBT youth, continue to face severe obstacles in their emotional and professional development.

What is the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act?

The Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act requires that the Secretary of Health and Human Services establish a demonstration project to develop programs that are focused on improving family relationships and reducing homelessness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. These programs must include research-based behavioral interventions designed to decrease rejecting behaviors and increase supportive behaviors in families with LGBT youth and research-based assessment tools to help identify LGBT youth at risk for family conflict or ejection from their homes. Additionally, the Secretary must provide educational tools and resources to help families identify behaviors that put LGBT youth at risk as well as provide multimedia educational tools and resources that are focused on helping a diverse range of families understand how their behavior affects LGBT youth.

 

These specific directives relating to LGBT youth are actually a relatively small part of the overall Act which aims to improve training, educational opportunities and permanency planning for older foster youth and reduce homelessness of youth.

 

Broad Support

This legislation is supported by more than 40 organizations including the American Bar Association, the National Coalition for the Homeless, Voice for Adoption, the National Network for Youth, the National Center on Family Homelessness, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, the National Center for Transgender Equality, The Trevor Project and the National Association of Council for Children.

 

Action in the 112th Congress

The bill was introduced in the 112th Congress in the Senate by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) on May 12, 2011.
 

What is the Current Status of the Bill?

The Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act is expected to soon be reintroduced in the 113th Congress.


For more information, please contact legislation@hrc.org.


Last Updated: January 3, 2013