Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act Moves to Full Senate Vote

Sep 2014

Contact: Patrick Phillippi, 202.748.2793, 

Legislation protects the nation’s most vulnerable youth. 

September 18, 2014 – Legislation to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee today (15-3) with bipartisan support, moving the bill forward to a full Senate vote.  

Led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act reauthorizes RHYA, which expired on September 30, 2013. This legislation recognizes the needs of all youth, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth experiencing homelessness. While gay and transgender youth comprise only up to seven percent of our total youth population, they comprise up to 40% of all homeless youth in America.

“It is critical we provide vulnerable youth with the resources and support they need,” Senator Patrick Leahy said. “Homeless children are less likely to finish school, more likely to enter our juvenile justice system, and are ill-equipped to find a job.  The services authorized by this bill are designed to intervene early and encourage the development of successful, productive young adults.”

RHYA is the only federal law that provides vital services specifically to homeless youth, including street outreach, basic shelter, and transitional living programs. A significant factor causing youth homelessness is family rejection, which is often the reason for homelessness among LGBT youth. Among the improvements made to RHYA reauthorization are improved support systems for family reunification and intervention.

“Despite the recent decline we have seen in chronic homelessness, there are still more than 1.6 million homeless teens in the United States,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins.  “As the Ranking Member of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, I have made it my goal to address chronic homelessness.  We must make sure our nation’s homeless youth have the same opportunity to succeed as other youth.  The programs reauthorized by this bill are critical in helping homeless youth stay off the street and find stable, sustainable housing.  I look forward to working with Senator Leahy to quickly move this bill through the full Senate and House so that the President can sign it into law.”

“I applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for voting to move this legislation forward to a full vote in the Senate,” said Cyndi Lauper, Co-Founder of the True Colors Fund. “I am especially grateful for the leadership of Sen. Leahy and Sen. Collins, and their efforts to ensure that this bipartisan bill includes protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth experiencing homelessness.  It is now time for the Senate to vote yes on this legislation, and help the 1.6 million youth across the United States whose very survival can depend on RHYA supported programs.”

The True Colors Fund is in strong support of this Act and will continue to work with Congress to see it enacted.  The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act strengthens critical services in the fight against youth homelessness and we thank Senators Leahy and Collins for their leadership on this reauthorization.

The True Colors Fund was co-founded by Cyndi Lauper to raise awareness about and bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness and to inspire and engage everyone, especially straight people, to become active participants in the advancement of equality for all.