On any given night in the state, there are over 20,000 people who are homeless, with half of those being families. Sen. Steve O’Ban has sponsored Senate Bill 5404, the Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Act, ensuring that homeless youth and adults have support they need to thrive and avoid human trafficking, the criminal justice system, and long-term dependence on public benefits or chronic adult homelessness.
“This bill coordinates our efforts to protect vulnerable youth,” said O’Ban – R, Pierce County. “Too often these children living on the streets are preyed upon by drug dealers and can fall victim to human trafficking. We need to better understand the causes of youth homelessness and provide services in an effective way. Our goal should be to reunite them with families when possible and provide resources like education and employment opportunities to improve their lives.”
The bill creates the Office of Youth Prevention and Protection Programs that will be responsible for keeping youths safely housed, identifying the causes of youth homelessness and most importantly aim to decrease the number of homeless youth and young adults.
The top priority of the legislation is reuniting homeless youth with their families. The bill outlines several other priority service areas such as stable housing, providing opportunities for continuing education and gaining employment in addition to addressing the social and emotional well-being and helping young homeless people establish permanent connections to their communities.
The companion bill, HB 1436, passed out of the House on March 4 and will need to pass the Senate.