The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD’s) current definition of homelessness excludes a vast majority children and youth who are actually homeless: those staying in motels, or temporarily with others because they have nowhere else to go. Nearly 1.3 million homeless students were identified by public schools last year. These children and youth face real harm, including negative emotional, educational, and health outcomes. They are at high risk of physical and sexual abuse and trafficking.
The Homeless Children and Youth Act, offered as an amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, would cut the red tape and return decision-making to local communities. It would amend HUD’s definition of homelessness to include children and youth who are verified as homeless through other government programs like public schools. The HCYA contains no new mandates, and costs nothing. Whether newly eligible families and youth receive services would depend on communities’ assessments of their own needs.
Tell your U.S. Senator and U.S. Representatives that all homeless children and youth need help – no matter where they happen to be staying!