Stivers bill aims to fight youth homelessness by increasing access to federal programs

U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) announced the reintroduction of bipartisan legislation on Tuesday that would help the government better understand and address youth homelessness.

Stivers announced the reintroduction of the Homeless Children and Youth Act at the Huckleberry House in Columbus, which fights youth homelessness through crisis shelter and transitional housing programs.

“No child should ever be without a home, let alone be forced to navigate bureaucratic red tape just to prove that they are actually homeless,” Stivers said. “This bill will be a first step in identifying the scope of the youth homelessness issue so we can help some of the most vulnerable in our communities. I want to thank everyone who came to the Huckleberry House (on Tuesday) in support of this legislation for their work to combat youth homelessness.”

The way the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines “homeless” is inconsistent with the definition used by other federal agencies.

The Homeless Children and Youth Act, which Stivers introduced with U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), would change HUD’s definition of homelessness to include all youth previously identified as homeless by other federal education and social services programs, like the National School Lunch Program. This change would increase access to federal homeless programs for a wider group of young people, such as by including children living in motels and doubled-up in households with acquaintances.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who sponsored a companion version of the bill in the Senate, said persistent poverty “robs children of the security and stability they deserve.”

“Our common-sense reforms will open up access to federal assistance programs for thousands of homeless children and youth,” Portman said. “Washington has to ensure that it is playing the right role in helping these vulnerable children, and this bill is a step in the right direction.”