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Posts Tagged ‘Youth Homelessness’

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

Guest Post: The Real Meaning of PRIDE

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

The Real Meaning of PRIDE by Frank McAlpin

Homeless Youth are OUR Youth
 
As we, in Los Angeles prepare for one of the largest and most spectacular Gay Pride Parades in the nation there is much to be proud of. We are experiencing unprecedented progress in the LGBT rights movement. From the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country, to the acceptance of openly gay professional athletes, to greater visibility and inclusion of LGBT folks in media and politics. Yes, there is much to celebrate! 
 
Yet with all this GAY excitement and celebration we can’t overlook the hundreds of young people sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles every night. It is estimated that in the US a half a million youth are homeless, about 40 percent of these youth identify as LGBTQ. And it is believed that Los Angeles is home to the most young people in country experiencing homelessness. 
 
There are numerous reasons as to why youth become homeless such as: abuse, neglect, poverty and homophobia. Often times LGBTQ youth are not physically or emotionally safe in their homes and communities, due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. They leave home in search of a more affirming and supportive space to be who they are. 
 
For whatever reason youth become homeless, their daily reality is almost impossible to imagine. It is a reality of constant hunger and exhaustion. Of violence and exploitation. Of rejection and stigma. For many homeless youth each day is just about survival. The realities that homeless youth experience 
impact every facet of their life, including employment prospects, education and physical and mental health. 
 
When trying to imagine these realities I can’t help but think, what kind of community allows young people, some already marginalized because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to be homeless? To have no safe and supportive space to live and grow into the beautiful individuals they are? 
 
Our collective acceptance of youth homelessness in OUR community is not something we can be proud of. It is an injustice so horrific it diminishes our entire community. And its existence overshadows the very equality the LGBT rights movement is achieving today. 
 
These homeless youth, many of whom identify as LGBTQ, are our youth. We, as an LGBT community and more broadly as a nation, must care for these youth. We must recognize them. Talk with them. Fight for them. For these young people represent all that is beautiful and possible in our community. They are our 
future. 
 
Youth experiencing homelessness, LGBT or not, want the same things we all want. To be safe, respected, supported and loved. And isn’t that what Pride is really all about? 
 
So as we gather in West Hollywood this June to throw glitter and celebrate our Pride, let us also commit to ending youth homelessness. Let us ensure that all homeless youth feel safe, respected, supported and loved. And that we all come to know the true meaning of PRIDE. 
 
Frank McAlpin, social worker and homeless youth advocate 
@FrankMcTalk

National Campaign for Youth Shelter

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Community Organizing, LGBTQ, Policy Advocacy, Shelter, Youth

National Campaign for Youth Shelter

NCH is proud to work with the Ali Forney Center to launch the National Campaign for Youth Shelter, a collaboration that will build a grassroots campaign to demand a national response to youth homelessness.

 The National Campaign for Youth Shelter calls include the following:

  1. A federal commitment to provide all youths age 24 and under with immediate access to safe shelter, affirming the principle that no young person in the United States should be left homeless in the streets.
  2. An immediate commitment to add 22,000 beds with appropriate services. (This number corresponds to the number of youths identified in the most recent Point In Time Count of homeless persons conducted by the federal government).
  3. A more accurate and comprehensive effort to count the number of homeless youth in the nation in order to determine the number of beds that are needed over the next decade.

The campaign is going to hold rallies in New York City and Washington, DC, to launch the campaign as a priority within the LGBT movement. The New York City rally will be held on June 2. Details to come.

LGBT youth are disproportionately over-represented in the homeless youth population, with as many as 40% of the nation’s homeless youth being LGBT, while only 5% of the overall youth population is LGBT.

Currently, there are only approximately 4,000 youth shelter beds in the United States, yet as many as 500,000 unaccompanied youths experience homelessness each year.

“It’s indefensible that our nation would abide hundreds of thousands of young people to be homeless and on their own,” says Jerry Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “The National Campaign for Youth Shelter will highlight the urgency of basic emergency shelter as we work toward permanent solutions to this crisis.”

The National Campaign for Youth Shelter has gained the support and endorsement of over 30 organizations, including: GLAADthe Alliance for a Just SocietyCampaign for America’s FutureCampus PrideCenter for Community ChangeCenter for Popular DemocracyCenterLink: The Community of LGBT CentersCoalition on Human NeedsCovenant HouseEmpire State Pride AgendaFamily Acceptance ProjectFamily Equality CouncilGarden State EqualityGay Men’s Health CrisisGLSEN, the Hetrick Martin Institute, Housing Assistance Council, It Gets Better Project, Matthew Shepard Foundation, National AIDS Housing Coalition, National Black Justice Coalition, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Health Care for the Homeless CouncilNational Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, National Low Income Housing Coalition, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Partnership for Working Families, Rebuild the Dream, the Ruth Ellis Center, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Treatment Action Group, USAction, and You Can Play Project.

“It is unprecedented to have so many LGBT organizations join together with prominent national housing and anti-poverty organizations to fight for the humane treatment of impoverished youths.” says Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center. “With all this support, the National Campaign for Youth Shelter will build a movement to finally prevent youths from being left to suffer homelessness without access to shelter. The wealthiest nation on earth must not allow its youths to be left out in the streets.”

Tweet: The National Campaign for Youth Shelter is fighting for every young person to have access to safe shelter. http://ctt.ec/58RG8+

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