Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act

The Problem

Youth homelessness in the United States is a national crisis in urban, suburban, and rural communities affecting nearly 2 million youth between the ages of 12 and 24 every year. Consistent research also shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are over-represented among the homeless, comprising between 20 and 40 percent of the total homeless youth population, even though they make up 5 to 10 percent of the overall youth population.

The consequences of homelessness in the United States, particularly for LGBT youth, are far reaching and can last a lifetime.  Homelessness is harmful to mental and physical health, and youth who are homeless are at an increased risk for sexual abuse and exploitation, chemical and alcohol dependency, social stigma, and discrimination.  These youth also experience lower levels of long-term educational attainment—placing them at an even greater disadvantage when they enter the job market. Growing up without the critical family and social safety nets so many children rely on results in catastrophic consequences for economic stability, educational attainment, and life expectancy. Little support exists at the federal level to provide funding 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 Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act?

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Inclusion Act (RHYIA) would include LGBT youth within the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which provides funding for support systems that serve youth who become homeless.  These programs include emergency shelters, street outreach, transitional living, and assistance for homeless youth in rural areas. RHYIA would protect LGBT youth in several important ways.  First, RHYIA prohibits discrimination against youth based on their sexual orientation or gender identity within Runaway and Homeless Youth Act funded programs.  RHYIA also requires that any systems that accept this funding serve youth in a culturally competent manner.  Finally, RHYIA requires the Family and Youth Service Bureau to collect data on the pervasive extent of homelessness among LGBT youth. Authorization for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act expired in September 2013.  Any reauthorization of this law should include RHYIA language to support LGBT homeless youth.

Action in the 113th Congress?

RHYIA was introduced in the 113th Congress in the House by Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) on August 1, 2013.

What is the Current Status of the Bill?

RHYIA is expected to be re-introduced early in the 114th Congress.

Provisions of RHYIA were included in the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S. 262) introduced in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) on January 27, 2015.


Last Updated: March 9, 2015