Friday, Congressional leaders passed and President Obama signed the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill, which funds all federal operations. We’re excited to announce that this budget bill designates approximately $52.5 million in new funding for work to address youth homelessness in America.
The majority of the funding appropriated in this budget will help the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and its Federal partners better identify what works at the community level to not only address the immediate crisis of homelessness for youth, but determine what will work to reduce and end youth homelessness over the next five years. By studying successes to end youth homelessness at the community level, we set ourselves up for future success. The investments made in this budget today will enable HUD to drive youth homelessness down in America as it’s done with veterans and chronic homelessness.
Let’s break down exactly how this $52.5 million will be spent. The majority of the money – $33 million – will be invested by HUD in up to 10 communities, including four rural communities, across the country to identify successful strategies to end youth homelessness in America. This investment will be vital in informing a comprehensive national approach and aid in reaching the Federal Government’s goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020. An additional $5 million will be allocated for HUD to provide technical assistance on youth homelessness, as well as $4.5 million for HUD and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to research youth homelessness. By connecting communities with dedicated resources to aid youth and those who serve them, we will finally get the answers to the many questions we still have about what actually works to end youth homelessness. And, if a young person does find themselves without a home, these resources will support our efforts to ensure that their experience is rare, brief, and one-time.
We believe so strongly in this strategy that our co-founder Cyndi Lauper testified in front of the Senate Sub-Appropriations Committee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development this past April to push for this specific funding.
“Congress is making a statement: America values its next generation. Kids are our future and we refuse to abandon our future,” said Cyndi Lauper. “The additional $52.5 million this budget dedicates to homeless youth work will not only help kids who are currently on the street, but prevent other young people from becoming homeless to begin with.”
Watch Cyndi’s testimony:
“We are honored to work with our friends at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The White House, and in Congress, especially Senators Susan Collins and Jack Reed, as well as our coalition partners, to ensure that this funding happened,” said Gregory Lewis, Executive Director of the True Colors Fund. “Securing such a huge investment from Congress is a testament to the growing momentum we are building to end youth homelessness in America.”
In addition, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program run through HHS received a $5 million increase, taking that funding up to just under $120 million for hundreds of programs across the country that provide essential street outreach, emergency shelter, and transitional housing. While this is still just a drop in the bucket when one considers the scope of the issue and the funding it truly needs, momentum continues to build. This marks the first time in five years that the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program has seen an increase in funding. It’s a strong sign of the momentum and support that is being built by the True Colors Fund and our coalition partners around youth homelessness on Capitol Hill.
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) also received an increase of $5 million to advance the services they provide to keep youth experiencing homelessness connected to education – which is absolutely essential to ending this epidemic.
The money allocated in this budget doesn’t simply address youth homelessness, it plays a vital role in ending youth homelessness in America. It goes beyond maintaining the status quo, reaching instead for a definitive solution for the issue. The True Colors Fund will continue to work with HUD, HHS, DOE, as well as The White House and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, as this investment is made next year and aid them in ensuring that the lessons learned from this vital effort continue to move the needle forward in the effort to end youth homelessness in America.
It’s been an incredible year in the movement to end youth homelessness – and what a way to finish it out! All your support this year played an important role in securing important resources for runaway and homeless youth. You’ve enabled the True Colors Fund and our partners to play a role in ensuring that our government doesn’t leave these young people behind.
So spread the word! We’re celebrating the news and thanking Senator Susan Collins (ME) and Senator Jack Reed (RI) for their leadership in securing these vital appropriations to help further the effort to end youth homelessness. None of this would have been possible without their exemplary leadership and service. Will you join us?