FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gregory Lewis, 917-855-2533, [email protected]
April 15, 2015 – Today, Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-8) and Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) introduced H.R. 1779, the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act, to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). The reauthorization recognizes the needs of all young people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experiencing homelessness. Research continues to show that while LGBT youth make up just seven percent of the general youth population, they comprise 40 percent of the 1.6 million youth that are homeless in America each year.
“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.”
RHYA is our nation’s only federal law that specifically funds vital services for homeless youth, including street outreach, basic shelter, and transitional living programs. One of the most common factors leading to youth homelessness is family rejection. For LGBT youth, this rejection is often in response to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Stronger support systems for family reunification and intervention are among the improvements made to RHYA through reauthorization. H.R. 1779 is a companion to a bipartisan bill that was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).
“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.”
“I applaud Congressmen Reichert and Yarmuth for introducing the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act,” said Cyndi Lauper, Co-Founder of the True Colors Fund. “No young person deserves to be homeless, but they do deserve to have access to safe, supportive, and inclusive services if they find themselves on the streets. The time to act is now, because homeless youth don’t have the time for us to wait until tomorrow.”
The True Colors Fund strongly supports this Act, which strengthens critical services in the effort to end youth homelessness, and thanks Congressmen Reichert and Yarmuth for their leadership on this reauthorization.
The True Colors Fund was co-founded by Cyndi Lauper to end homelessness among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth through a broad continuum of public education and engagement, advocacy and public policy, youth collaboration, research, and community building programs. www.truecolorsunited.org