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Top 5 NCH Moments of 2014

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Community Organizing, Food Sharing, Hate Crimes, Speakers' Bureau, Violence Against the Homeless, Youth

Top 5 Moments for NCH in 2014

  • Actress Susan Sarandon spoke out against violence towards people experiencing homelessness. Ms. Sarandon voiced her support of our work protecting homeless individuals from hate crimes at a Congressional briefing in June, which followed the release of our annual Hate Crimes report.

 

  • The international media joined the conversation about food-sharing laws following the publication of our new report on food-sharing restrictions. We were able to use this attention to target Fort Lauderdale, the most recent city to pass a ban on food-sharing in public. We worked with Arnold Abbott,  the world-renowned homeless advocate, to mount a petition that has gathered more than 100,000 signatures opposing the city’s interference with groups feeding the hungry.

 

  • The National Campaign for Youth Shelter was officially launched. In June, nearly a thousand  advocates and homeless youths gathered in NYC’s Washington Square Park to rally for additional resources for young people. To date, more than 75 partner organizations have joined on to support this work.

 

  • We had our most successful Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week ever. Working with 450 schools, student groups, faith-based organizations, and community groups, we coordinated more than 1,000 events that offered opportunities for an estimated 65,000 people to get involved in the fight against poverty.

 

  • The voices of those who have experienced homelessness were heard! Our Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau has spoken 265 times in the past year, reaching a combined audience of 16,600 people. We believe that individuals living in poverty are some of the best advocates and deserve to have a leadership role in any organizing effort on their behalf.

Awareness & Action – Youth Homelessness in America

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness, Education, Youth

YouthHomelessness

 

There are nearly half a million unaccompanied young people in this country who experience homelessness each year. They are on their own, without parental or institutional support, trying to navigate a complicated system at a time in their lives when everything is already uncertain and often difficult.

Stability is fundamental for proper mental and physical development and for the chance to receive a decent education. We cannot abide the current youth homelessness crisis. We, at NCH, are spearheading the National Campaign for Youth Shelter, along with the Ali Forney Center in NYC, to demand that every young person in America has access to safe shelter.

You can do your part by joining the National Campaign for Youth Shelter and fighting for homeless youths in your community!

Guest Post: 40 Years of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Youth

40 Years of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act by Frank McAlpin, Guest Blogger

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), which has provided funding for services to youth experiencing homelessness across the nation. And 40 years after the initial legislation, the services that RHYA funds are needed now more than ever.

Youth become homeless for a number of reasons including: family violence and neglect, rejection due to sexual orientation or gender identity, the overwhelmed child welfare system and extreme poverty. These youth almost always have experienced unimaginable abuse and trauma, in their homes, their communities, and on the street. It is the RHYA-funded services and programs that help to rectify the deep injustices that homeless youth experience on a daily basis.

RHYA specifically funds three different programs for homeless youth: street outreach, which aims to transition youth off the streets; basic centers, which provides youth temporary shelter and services; and transitional living programs, which provides longer term housing and support to youth 16-21 years of age. In July of this year new federal legislation was introduced in Congress, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking and Prevention Act.

This new legislation would reauthorize the original RHYA and strengthen the law to better serve homeless youth today. The new law adds a nondiscrimination clause, which would ensure that all youth seeking services, including LGBTQ youth are treated fairly and with dignity by agencies receiving federal funding. This clause directly reflects the current homeless youth population, with almost 40 percent of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ. In addition, the new law would require culturally competent and comprehensive care and services for all homeless youth, including LGBTQ youth and youth who have been survivors of human trafficking, violence and exploitation.

Over the past 40 years, there is no question that millions of youth have been impacted by RHYA. This one piece of legislation has been the cornerstone of homeless youth services for decades and has literally been a lifeline for an untold amount of youth experiencing homelessness. As a social worker working with homeless youth I have seen first hand the extraordinary work of the RHYA funded programs.

In working with youth experiencing homelessness, I have been witness to the beautiful transformation that happens when youth are transitioned off the street and into supportive housing programs. Programs in which youth can heal from trauma, learn basic life skills, obtain a job, pursue their education, repair relationships with their family and begin to fulfill their deepest passions. In short, RHYA and the agencies that receive the funding seek to restore dignity to youth experiencing homelessness. It aims to provide youth with the support and care necessary for them not just to survive but thrive.

The passage of the updated RHYA, Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking and Prevention Act by Congress is imperative for youth experiencing homelessness.  There is no better way to honor the 40th anniversary of RHYA and the over one million homeless youth today, then for the passage the Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking and Prevention Act. It ensures that homeless youth’s beauty, strength and potential are elevated and that they will be able to move out homelessness and fulfill their dreams.

 Frank McAlpin, social worker based in Hollywood

@frankmctalk

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