Bipartisan efforts boost resources to combat youth homelessness
Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Homeless Youth Prevention Act into law Friday. Sponsored by state Sen. Steve O’Ban, Senate Bill 5404 boosts resources to homeless youth and aims to decrease homelessness with greater data and prevention efforts.
“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation in recent history to combat youth homelessness,” said O’Ban – R, Pierce County, “By better coordinating state resources, we can get at the root of youth homelessness and prevent the tragedies these children face each day such as being victims of human trafficking or drug abuse.”
O’Ban added, “Our goals are to reunite them with families when possible and provide resources like education and employment opportunities to improve their lives. That’s what this law will do.”
On any given night in the state, there are over 20,000 people who are homeless, with half of those being families. The new law creates the Office of Youth Prevention and Protection Programs that will be responsible for providing safe housing, and identifying the causes of youth homelessness with the goal to decrease the number of youth and young adults living on the street.
“The Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Act is landmark legislation that will elevate the issue of youth and young adult homelessness to the state level, ” said Jim Theofelis, Executive Director of the Mockingbird Society. “I and the growing number of young people who find themselves surviving on our streets are so appreciative of Senator O’Ban and his leadership on this critical issue. The promise of the HYPP Act is that family reunification services will reduce the number of youth who runaway while providing a pathway to the table of community for those who find themselves homeless and alone.”
The law outlines several priority service areas such as stable housing, providing opportunities for continuing education and job placement. Resources also target the social and emotional well-being of youth by helping them establish permanent connections to their communities.