Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act
Youth homelessness in the United States is a national crisis in urban, suburban, and rural communities, affecting an estimated nearly two million young people every year. Consistent research also shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth are over-represented among the homeless, comprising up to 40 percent of the total unaccompanied homeless youth population, even though they make up 5 to 10 percent of the overall youth population.
The consequences of homelessness, particularly for LGBTQ 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 young people 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 LGBTQ youth. As a result, homeless youth, particularly LGBTQ youth, continue to face severe obstacles in their emotional and professional development.
What is the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act?
The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA) would reauthorize essential Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs, including prevention, emergency shelters, street outreach, transitional living, and assistance in rural areas. Authorization for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act expired in September 2013.
Notably, RHYTPA includes much needed updates to the current Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs, including an explicit non-discrimination provision that would prohibit any provider of these services from discriminating against youth based on their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. This provision is modeled on the non-discrimination provision that was enacted in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
RHYTPA has broad support from organizations that support homeless youth, as well as numerous organizations focused on child welfare, human trafficking, education, and civil rights, including the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST), American Psychological Association, Child Welfare League of America, Covenant House International, ECPAT-USA, National Association of School Psychologists, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Network for Youth, National PTA, School Social Work Association of America, and True Colors Fund.
What was the Status of the Bill in the 114th Congress?
RHYTPA was introduced in the House by Reps. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and David Reichert (R-WA) on April 14, 2015 and in the Senate by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) on January 27, 2015. RHYTPA was proposed as an amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act by Sens. Leahy and Collins on April 22, 2015, but it failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to proceed.
What is the Current Status of the Bill?
RHYTPA has not yet been reintroduced in the 115th Congress.