Congressional action is heating up on a number of bills related to child, youth, and family homelessness, including FY2020 funding, higher education, and homeless assistance. Please read the updates below and take action to help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.

  1. FY2020 funding for targeted homeless children and youth programs; 
  2. Higher education for homeless and foster youth; and 
  3. HUD homeless assistance reform for children, youth, and families.

We’ve made it much easier for you to take action with our new Advocacy Action Center – simply enter your zip code, edit a template letter, and your message will be sent to your Members of Congress. Please forward far and wide!

1. FY2020 Funding for Targeted Homeless Children and Youth Programs (EHCY and RHYA)

What’s at stake?

The Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program removes barriers to identification, enrollment, attendance, and success. Without this specific, targeted assistance, homeless children and youth are unlikely to benefit from any investment in education, and are at much higher risk of experiencing homelessness as adults.

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program serves young people experiencing homelessness by meeting their immediate needs, providing short- and long-term residential services, and conducting prevention and outreach efforts to move youth out of homelessness. The RHYA program saves lives and helps young people transition to independence.

Current funding for these programs is grossly inadequate. Currently, less than one in four school districts receive direct support through the EHCY program, and RHYA shelters must turn away thousands of youth each year.

What’s the status?

In June, the House passed H.R. 2740, which increased funding for the EHCY program by 7% (to $100 million), and funding for the RHYA program by 15% (to $147 million).

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of its FY2020 bill, which increased funding for the EHCY program by 10% (to $102.5 million), and provided level funding for the RHYA program (to $127.3 million).

A chart with FY2020 funding levels for selected education, early care, human services, and housing programs is available here.

Disagreements over top-line spending have stalled the appropriations process in the Senate. A stop-gap measure will be voted on soon to ensure funding through the end of the fiscal year, while negotiations continue.

What action is needed? 

Please take one minute now to send an electronic letter to your U.S. Senators to urge them to support $105 million for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, and $165 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program, in the FY2020 budget in fiscal year 2020. Just enter your zip code, edit the template letter, and your message will be sent directly to your U.S. Senators.

2. The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (S. 789/H.R. 1724)

What’s at stake?

Homeless youth and foster youth encounter many barriers to higher education. These vulnerable young people contend with histories of abuse, neglect, trauma, and frequent educational disruption caused by mobility. They struggle without parental care or other adult support, and frequently lack the basics that most of us take for granted, like shelter and food. Higher education is their best hope for a better life.

What’s the status?

After months of negotiations, the Senate HELP Committee may start to consider legislation to reauthorize parts of the Higher Education Act, including financial aid, as soon as next week. The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (S. 789/H.R. 1724) is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would remove barriers to higher education access and success caused by homelessness and foster care. It is one of many proposals both Senate and House committees are reviewing as they consider the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

What action is needed?

Please take one minute now to send an electronic letter to your  U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative to ask them to sign on as cosponsors of the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (S. 789/H.R. 1724). Increasing the number of cosponsors is an important strategy to increase support for the inclusion of the bill’s provisions in HEA reauthorization. Just enter your zip code, edit the template letter, and your message will be sent directly to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative.

3. The Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 2001)

What’s at stake? 

Millions of homeless children and youth are shut out of HUD’s homeless assistance programs because they do not meet HUD’s restrictive definition of homelessness. While these children and youth are considered homeless by other federal agencies, they aren’t even eligible to be assessed for HUD homeless assistance – no matter how vulnerable they are.

The Homeless Children and Youth Act (HR 2001) fixes this problem. It allows homeless children and youth to be seen and served by aligning federal definitions of homelessness for children and youth, streamlining assistance, leveraging resources, and bringing greater visibility to the reality of family and youth homelessness.

What’s the status?

On April 1, 2019, Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA) reintroduced H.R. 2001, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (HYCA) to revise the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) definition of “homeless” to include all children and youth who are already verified as homeless by several other educational and social services programs.

Last week, Congressmen Stivers and Loebsack circulated a “Dear Colleague Letter” asking for other U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor the legislation.

What action is needed? 

Please take one minute to urge your U.S. Representative to cosponsor H.R. 2001, the Homeless Children and Youth Act. Increasing the number of cosponsors is an important strategy to increase support for the bill’s provisions, and to show support to Committee and Congressional leadership. Just enter your zip code, edit the template letter, and your message will be sent directly to your U.S. Representative.

 

 

 


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