by Ashley Johnson
Actor Djimon Hounsou and other advocates for homeless young people urged lawmakers Tuesday to reauthorize and increase funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
Apr. 29) – Actor Djimon Hounsou spoke about homeless youth and protecting runaways during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. Joe Marquette
Hounsou told the Senate Judiciary Committee that before he was discovered by a fashion designer, he lived on the streets of France — and even spent the night in a juvenile prison for shelter. “I lived out my days in hunger and desperation,” he said.
Victoria Wagner, president and CEO of National Network for Youth, asked Congress to increase the authorization levels for the account that funds emergency shelters and transitional living programs to $200 million and the prevention account to $30 million. She also recommended that HHS regularly produce a national estimate of homeless and runaway youth.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said the money spent on the Iraq war this week alone could fund the programs several times over. “This country can’t afford not to do this; we could lose part of our soul,” he said.