What is RHYTPA?

The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S.2646) is new legislation that was introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) on July 23, 2014. It reauthorizes and strengthens the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), the only federal law that funds vital services for homeless youth.

What does it do?

The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act allows Congress to continue funding three major programs that provide critical services and support to our nation’s homeless youth:

Street

Street Outreach Program: Provides funds to private and nonprofit agencies performing outreach efforts designed to move youth off the streets.
Impacted 800,000 young people last year.

Bed

Basic Center Program: Provides temporary shelter, family reunification services, counseling, food, clothing, and aftercare services.
Served more than 40,000 youth last year.

Residence

Transitional Living Program: Provides longer term housing with supportive services to homeless youth ages 16 to 21 for up to 18 months.
Served more than 40,000 youth last year.

Why is it important?

Homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth comprise up to 40 percent of the U.S. homeless population. So, while the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act is critically important for all homeless youth, it has a direct impact on those within the LGBT community.

40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
The reauthorization adds a nondiscrimination clause to ensure that all youth are treated fairly, including LGBT youth. This ensures that homeless LGBT youth benefit fairly and equally from the programs and services provided by the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act. The reauthorization also provides culturally and competent care for all youth seeking shelter, including LGBT youth and victims of human trafficking, violence, and exploitation.

What are its other core provisions?

  • Family Reunification and Intervention: This provision can be hugely impactful for homeless LGBT youth, many of whom are rejected by their families simply because of who they are.
  • Research and Data Collection: The legislation funds a national study of the prevalence, needs and characteristics of homeless youth. This will help to ensure that programs and services better address the unique challenges of youth facing homelessness.
  • National Runaway Youth Hotline: The legislation funds a national call center to help youth and families in crisis. This call center makes connections between runaway and homeless youth and their families and/or service providers.
  • Training and Technical Assistance: Every grantee receives training and technical assistance, which includes on-site and web-based techniques, such as on-demand and online learning.