On August 15, 2023, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R.5221) was reintroduced by U.S. Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11,) Bill Posey (R-FL-08), Delia Ramirez (D-IL-03), and Don Bacon (R-NE-02).

Most children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness are shut out of homeless assistance because they do not meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) restrictive definition of homelessness. 

  • Shelters and transitional housing are often full, unable to serve families as a unit, do not accept unaccompanied minor youth, or simply do not exist in too many communities. When families and youth are not able to access shelter, they are much less likely to be eligible for HUD homeless assistance programs.
  • Families experiencing homelessness are also less likely than single adults to stay on the streets and other outdoor locations, often because they are afraid their children will be removed from their custody. Unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness fear interactions with authorities and exploitation from older adults whether in a shelter, on the street, or staying on someone’s couch.
  • For these reasons, families and youth are much more likely to stay temporarily with other people, or in motels — situations that are themselves very unstable, often unsafe, and put them at risk of great harm, including trafficking. They often move between situations and may not know where they will sleep from one night to the next.

While these youth and families are considered homeless by some federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, they are not considered homeless by HUD. As a result, they are not eligible to be assessed for and receive HUD homeless assistance. Yet the children and youth who are excluded from HUD’s definition of homelessness are extremely vulnerable, and are at great risk of continuing to experience homelessness as adults.

The Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA) fixes this problem by aligning federal definitions of homelessness for children and youth, streamlining assistance, leveraging resources, and bringing greater visibility to the reality of family and youth homelessness.

Take Two Actions Now!

1. Urge Your U.S. Representative to Sign On as a Co-Sponsor of H.R.5221

2. Use this form to add your organization’s name to the list of organizational endorsers. Please share widely with your community partners!

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