A Legislative Victory in Washington State
Washington State is on the verge of wrapping our arms around our youth and making sure that no one ever spends a night on the street. Starting with the 2015 Legislative session, we had a huge success for a key priority of the Campion Foundation. The Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection (HYPP) Act was signed into law by Governor Inslee on April 24, 2015. This Act aims to prevent and reduce youth and young adult homelessness (YYA) in Washington state.
The previous system was not working for our young people. Too many were still falling through the cracks. On any given night, more than 32,000 young people in Washington have no place to call home. About 7,000 of those youth are unaccompanied and don’t have an adult or guardian to help keep them safe. Many cycle in and out of homelessness and struggle to find resources for shelter, food, clothing and education.
This groundbreaking legislation will improve the lives of thousands of youth and young adults who experience homelessness throughout the state of Washington. It will allow the state to better leverage it’s resources and make sure youth homelessness is “rare, brief and one-time” by setting aggressive goals to end youth homelessness.
In addition to elevating the issue of youth and young adult (YYA) homelessness to the state level, the bill:
- Creates the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Programs (HYPP Office) in the Department of Commerce. For the first time, rather than have programs that touch the needs of youth spread out over several departments, they will be centralized.
- This office will be able to meet kids where they are with what they need in in five key areas: stable housing; family reconciliation when safe; healthy, permanent connections with adults; opportunities for education and employment; and social and emotional well-being.
- We are going to make sure that government doesn’t create anymore homeless youth by preventing systems such as foster care or juvenile justice from discharging YYA into homelessness.
We are excited that the State is leading the way on this important issue and want to thank First Lady, Trudi Inslee, for her tremendous leadership. She continues to be a strong advocate for homeless youth. This is an example of how government can and should work. But government isn’t the only solution. Here at Campion we are moving forward with other key stakeholders around the state to launch a statewide campaign to end youth homelessness in Washington state. We believe our state can be a leader in this effort around the country. Thank you to all leaders and organizations engaged in this fight.