WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-8) and Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) introduced H.R. 1779, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA). This legislation will reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act--currently the only federal program targeted solely to help runaway youth--and also add new protections for youth victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation.
There are approximately 1.6 million homeless teens in the United States, and nearly 39 percent of the nation's homeless population is believed to be under the age of 18 years old.
"We have a responsibility to help the most vulnerable," said Rep. Reichert. "Many of our most vulnerable are children who have for one reason or another been forced to live on the streets. Too often we fail to see these kids and we leave them without opportunities to rebuild their lives. This bill will help us to fix that, and it will help us provide shelter for children in need and set them up to become successful adults."
"This legislation will help us meet our responsibility to combat youth homelessness and ensure that homeless young people in America have a place to seek shelter and find safety," said Rep. Yarmuth. "When a child is homeless, they don't just lose the security of a safe place to sleep, they miss out on opportunities for future success."
RHYTPA will reauthorize vital programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the Basic Center Program, to provide short-term emergency shelter and family reunification services to runaway and homeless youth; the Transitional Living Center, which provides longer-term residential services and life skills, education, and employment supports to older homeless youth; and the Street Outreach Program, which provides crisis intervention and service referrals to runaway and homeless youth at street locations and drop-in centers.
Additionally, the measure includes a provision to improve support for family reunification and intervention, which can be critical to successful youth outcomes.