Sharing the Impact of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act

Four young people holding hands.

What has the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act enabled you or your organization to do? Throughout September, share your accomplishments and connections to the act on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #BecauseofRHYA. Don’t have a social media account? Email your thoughts to us and we’ll share on your behalf!

As we announced last week, we’re celebrating 40 years of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act this fall. RHYA, as it’s sometime called, is the landmark federal legislation that launched a system of emergency shelters for young people without a stable place to live.

Later, RHYA expanded to include programs that reach out to youth living on the streets and prepare young people to live independently. Today, RHYA programs are instrumental in the federal government’s work to end youth homelessness by 2020.

Because of RHYA, Runaway and Homeless Youth Program funding administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau has, over the years, gone to hundreds of community-based programs across the nation.

Because of RHYA, these programs have been able to help many thousands of young people return home, repair relationships with their families and recover from trauma.

Because of RHYA, thousands more youth who weren’t able to safely return home have gained the skills to live on their own.

How else has RHYA made a difference? Here’s what a few grantees of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program said:

Melinda Giovengo, executive director, YouthCare, Seattle, WA:

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act has helped YouthCare and many organizations serving homeless youth and young adults around our nation provide life-saving and essential services for over 40 years.

From a chance to eat a hot and healthy meal in a safe place, to the opportunity to plan for the future and access transitional housing or build new skills that lead to stable employment – the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act provides critically needed resources to be able to stabilize, engage and prepare young people for life beyond the streets.

Also celebrating our 40th anniversary, this last year YouthCare had more than 6,700 unduplicated  points of contact with young people on the streets, welcomed nearly 430 unduplicated youth to our drop-in services every month, and connected nearly 700 youth to emergency shelter throughout the year.

Yolanda Ortiz, program director, Tempo Young Adult Resource Center, Framingham, MA:

Since October alone we’ve been able to place 20 young people in emergency shelter. We helped another 16 runaway youth find a supportive family member. We get a lot of food donations from local Starbucks and Whole Foods, and provide close to 2,000 healthy snacks to young people as well as 500 first aid kits. As part of our Community Links program, we go out in the community and meet young people who might be at risk of homelessness. We have a large Latino and Portuguese population so we have multilingual staff who go out by foot by van a few times a week.

Maureen Blaha, executive director, National Runaway Safeline, Chicago, IL:

Forty years ago, Congress passed the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act that established a national communication system for runaway and homeless youth.  The National Runaway Safeline has held the distinction of being the national communication system from the beginning—it’s the only organization to ever be awarded that privilege. Since its establishment, the Safeline has continued to be the go-to resource for runaway, homeless and at-risk youth and their families.

We’ve grown from a hotline to so much more, including the addition of crisis intervention online via live chat, email and bulletin boards, information and referrals, conference calls with family, family reunification, message services, connecting via text, and access to prevention resources.

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