Throughout the early part of the 20th century, child welfare agencies and the juvenile justice court system were responsible for homeless youth. In the 1970’s concern for runaway homeless youth grew. The federal government took action when Congress passed The Runaway Youth Act (RYA), Title III of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection Act of 1974.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency conducted several hearings, concluding that homeless youth were commonly living in dangerous and overcrowded conditions. The Subcommittee then proposed the RYA. In 1977 the act was expanded to become the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), which allowed local systems of care to be developed and shaped by the unique needs and priorities of an area.
Today, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program (RHYP) continues with three programs designed to prevent and address youth homelessness: Street Outreach, Basic Center, and Transitional Living. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers the programs, which house between 3,500 and 4,000 youth each year. RHYA has been flat funded at $115 million since 2009.
More information about the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act is available from the National Network for Youth at: http://bit.ly/Sk5So6
NLIHC is recognizing its 40th anniversary throughout 2014, culminating in a commemorative event on Monday, November 17 in Washington, DC. Please save the date.