FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, September 18, 2014, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted S. 2646, the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA) out of committee with a very strong vote, 15 ayes and 3 nays. RHYTPA was introduced in the Senate on July 23, 2014 by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). RHYTPA reauthorizes the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) (42 U.S.C. 5701 et seq.) which is celebrating its 40th year anniversary this year and was last reauthorized in 2008.
“It is critical we provide vulnerable youth with the resources and support they need,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) 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.”
Fourteen Senators joined S. 2646 as cosponsors before today’s committee vote: Senators Blumenthal, Boxer, Brown, Coons, Durbin, Franken, Gillibrand, Hirono, King, Levin, Murphy, Murray, Schumer and Whitehouse.
Senators Grassley, Cornyn and Feinstein made statements in support of RHYTPA and discussed the amendments they offered. The only amendment that will affect Runaway and Homeless Youth Act grantees is Senator Grassley’s amendment, which concerns the National Network for Youth because of the increased bureaucratic burden on Runaway and Homeless Youth Act grant recipients.
“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.”
The National Network for Youth has been leading the reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act with key partners. In 2013, the Network convened a group of 35 experts who collaborated and developed recommendations for critical updates to the legislation. Many of these recommendations are embodied in the Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking Prevention Act, S. 2646. For a summary of S. 2646 please read our bill summary.
“The strong support that the Senate Judiciary Committee showed today and the leadership of Senators Leahy and Collins, indicates that these vital programs serving America’s runaway and homeless youth are valued and will be strengthened,” said Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth. “I have personally visited many Runaway and Homeless Youth Act funded programs and spent time with the young people they serve. There is no question that these programs are vital to saving lives and helping young people exit danger and homelessness and transition successfully to adulthood.”
The National Network for Youth applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee for supporting this important piece of legislation that provides lifesaving care to many vulnerable runaway and homeless youth across the United States. We thank Senators Collins and Leahy for their tireless bipartisan leadership on behalf of America’s homeless youth.