Homeless Youth Legislation

Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs help prevent exploitation of youth on the streets and support reconnection to their families, schools, employment, and housing options.


The President's Budget Proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2015 recommends providing level funding to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) and Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) programs through providing $114 million for RHYA and $65 million for EHCY. The budget also proposes an additional $2 million for an incidence and prevalence study of unaccompanied youth homelessness.

On Tuesday, June 10, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, which sets funding levels for the RHYA and EHCY programs, among others, marked up its FY 2015 funding bill for programs under its jurisdiction, including all programs within the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Education. However, the full text of the bill, including the funding levels for the RHYA and EHCY programs, was not released. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on HHS did not releas nor mark up an FY 2015 appropriations bill.

Since Congress was not able to finalize FY 2015 funding for federal programs (including HHS and Education programs), via the regular appropriations process in time for the start of the fiscal year, a continuing resolution (CR), or stopgap funding measure, was passed to fund the government at FY 2014 levels through December 11. At this point, Congress will either need to pass an omnibus spending bill finalizing FY 2015 funding for federal programs, including RHYA and EHCY, or pass another short- or long-term CR to keep government programs funded at current levels ($114 million for RHYA and $65 million for EHCY).

About RHYA Programs
The Family and Youth Services Bureau, part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, administers the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs. RHYA programs include:

  • The Basic Center Program, which provides financial assistance to meet the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth and their families, including emergency shelter, reunification when possible, food, clothing, counseling, and facilitating access to health care;
  • The Transitional Living Program, which supports projects that provide long-term residential services to homeless youth ages 16 to 21 for up to 18 months; and
  • The Street Outreach Program, which provides funds to private and nonprofit agencies performing outreach efforts designed to move youth off the streets.

RHYA was up for reauthorization in 2013; however, it is unlikely that the 113th Congress will take up a reauthorization bill for the program, though that remains to be seen for 2014.

About EHCY
Congress passed the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program as part of the original McKinney-Vento legislation in 1987. The program provides formula grants to state educational agencies to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness have the same access to education provided to all children and youth. States and localities receive EHCY funds to review and revise any policies that may act as a barrier to attendance or success in school for children and youth experiencing homelessness. The program was reauthorized in 2002 as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The changes require that every school district has a local liaison to ensure appropriate adherence to the laws.

For more information on the RHYA and EHCY programs, see the National Network for Youth’s webpage here.


Library Resources

Advocacy Resource | August 21, 2014
These talking points can be individualized for your community and/or program when reaching out to your Members of Congress in order to urge them to pursue a funding level of $140 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program. 
Federal Policy Brief | April 19, 2012
As many as 20 percent of the runaway and homeless youth population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). This suggests as many as 80,000 LGBTQ youth are homeless for over a week each year. These young people face particular difficulties. Ending homelessness for LGBTQ youth will require specific policies to address those difficulties.