Yarmuth, Bacon, Leahy, and Collins Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Help Runaway and Homeless Youth

Press Release

Today, Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Don Bacon (R-NE) and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act. The legislation will reauthorize key federal grant programs to provide states with funding to help thousands of homeless young people nationwide.

The landmark Runaway and Homeless Youth Act was first passed by Congress in 1974, providing nationwide support to address youth and young adult homelessness. This reauthorization would expand protections to youths who are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking and would authorize funding for state and local programs to help provide transitional housing, street outreach, and crisis intervention programs to address the needs of homeless and runaway youth. The legislation raises the authorization of appropriations to $300 million and doubles the minimum grant allocation provided to small states, from $100,000 to $200,000. The reauthorization also creates a new Prevention Services Program that would make additional resources available to organizations providing counseling, mediation, and other services aimed at preventing youth from running away or becoming homeless.

"We must uphold our nation's responsibility to combat youth homelessness in every way possible and ensure that our young people always have access to a safe and secure place to call home," said Representative Yarmuth. "I was proud to lead the effort to reauthorize this critical program back in 2008 and it is my hope that we can reauthorize it once again this Congress. These vulnerable and at-risk youth need our help, as well as the families and communities impacted by our homelessness crisis."

"The pandemic increased the number of homeless and runaway youths, who have become more susceptible to trafficking, so we need to increase our federal efforts to assist them," said Representative Bacon. "Our bill will provide agencies with the means to support youth who are in vulnerable positions and give them resources to address these problems."

"Every child has a basic right to feel safe and secure, and reducing youth homelessness is a key part of that equation," said Senator Leahy. "The Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking Prevention Act reauthorizes vital grant programs that communities across the country rely on to prevent and respond to youth homelessness. These programs fund incredibly important work and save lives. As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee I have prioritized addressing youth homelessness, and I hope we can unanimously reauthorize this legislation."

"Our bipartisan bill would support those young people who run away, are forced out of their homes, or are disconnected from their families," said Senator Collins. "A caring and safe place to sleep, eat, grow, study, and develop is critical for all young people. The programs reauthorized and modernized through this legislation help extend those basic services to the most vulnerable youth in our communities."

The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act would:

Reauthorize and increase authorization levels for programs under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act;
Increase annual competitive grants for rural youth demographics from $100,000 to $200,000;
Require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a national estimate of the prevalence of homeless youth every three years;
Allow extensions in length of stay in Basic Center Programs (BCP) from 21 days, to up to 30 days.

The legislation is supported by youth advocacy organizations including the National Network for Youth, which has supported the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act since it was first enacted in 1974.