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Reps. Yarmuth, Reichert, Denham Introduce Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking Prevention Act

WASHINGTON– Today, Congressmen John Yarmuth (KY-3), Dave Reichert (WA-8), and Jeff Denham (CA-10) introduced H.R. 5339, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA). This bipartisan legislation will reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act—currently the only federal program targeted solely to help runaway youth. In addition, the legislation includes new protections for youth victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

There are approximately 4.2 million young people between the ages of 13 and 25 in the United States who experience homelessness annually, including 700,000 unaccompanied youth age 17 or younger.

“More must be done to combat youth homelessness and make sure that young people in America know they’ll always have a place they can turn to for shelter and safety,” said Rep. Yarmuth. “I’m proud Reps. Reichert and Denham are joining me in introducing this important legislation and for creating strong bipartisan support for this effort.  When young people become homeless, they aren’t just losing the security of a safe place to sleep, they’re also losing out on opportunities for future success.”

“Often overseen and left behind, runaway children and homeless youth are some of the most vulnerable in our society,” said Rep. Reichert. “Having run away and lived out of my car when I was a teenager, I know just how important it is to have a place to go, and help to turn to. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation to provide opportunities and support when these youth need it most. This is the help that can make all the difference in their lives and set their future path toward success.”

“Homelessness and human trafficking are two of the biggest problems we face in California’s Central Valley,” saidRep. Denham. “I’m working with programs in my community to improve the lives of at-risk youth, and this bill will further empower them to do that — especially when it comes to strengthening trafficking prevention efforts and victim assistance.”

RHYTPA will reauthorize vital programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the Basic Center Program, to provide short-term emergency shelter and family reunification services to runaway and homeless youth; the Transitional Living Center, which provides longer-term residential services and life skills, education, and employment supports to older homeless youth; and the Street Outreach Program, which provides crisis intervention and service referrals to runaway and homeless youth at street locations and drop-in centers.

Additionally, the measure includes a provision to improve support for family reunification and intervention, which can be critical to successful youth outcomes.

“Runaway and homeless youth programs provide life-saving services to youth all across America, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act makes necessary updates to improve the critical community-based care, housing and counseling that homeless youth and young adults in crisis need to prevent or address homelessness, avoid or leave victimization, reconnect with education and achieve long-term success as adults,” said Darla Bardine, Executive Director of the National Network for Youth, a public education and policy advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of youth homelessness in America.

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