Please note this advocacy message from the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless regarding proposed legislation to serve unaccompanied homeless youth. The Network unanimously supports this legislation. Please act now!
Dear Advocates, Service Providers and Concerned citizens,
Please join with us in working to end unaccompanied youth homelessness by supporting House Bill 135, An Act providing housing and support services to unaccompanied homeless youth. If your Senator or Representative is is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, you have the power to ask him to support this important piece of legislation.
This bill seeks to reduce youth homelessness and its adverse effects by funding a continuum of housing and support services geared specifically for unaccompanied youth and young adults under the age of 25. The goals of these efforts are to improve housing and residential stability, reduce the risk of harm and improve educational, physical and mental health outcomes for this population.
On August 12th, the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities reported the bill out favorably, and sent it to the House Ways and Means Committee but the work is far from over. The time to act is NOW!.The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education estimates that nearly 6,000 high school students are experiencing homelessness and out on their own. Thousands more unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness are not reflected in these numbers because they have already dropped out of school or are older and have finished school. With only 12 beds available in the metropolitan area of Boston, there is a desperate need for increased shelter and housing options for youth living without their parents!
While many youth are resilient and are able to overcome the ravages of homelessness, homelessness often leads to poor health outcomes including increased risk of death, exposure to violence, susceptibility to exploitation and high risk behaviors, and poor academic performance with increased risk of dropping out of school.
We are calling you out to take action and help us make sure that this bill won’t “die” this June. We need all of your support to make sure that the bill will be sent out to the Senate Ways and Means! You can help by engaging in the following:
– Write, email or call Representative Brian Dempsey and ask him to support House Bill 135 “An Act Providing Housing and Support Services to Unaccompanied Homeless Youth”, his contact information is as follows:
Rep. Brian Dempsey
Boston, MA 02133
Rep. Stephen Kulik
Boston, MA 02133
Email or call your Representative and Senator and tell them about the lack of housing for unaccompanied homeless youth and ask them to talk to the leadership of House and Senate Ways and Means to approve House bill 135. To find out who your Rep. and State Senator are, please visit: www.wheredoivote.com
– If you met with your legislators on Legislative Action Day in February, please send them a copy of the letter below, either by email or fax.
– Take action and sign this electronic alert, fill out the form and send it! It will automatically be sent to your State Rep. and State Senator. To sign the petition, visit: https://secure2.convio.net/
– Meet face to face with representative and/or Senator at the State House or at their district office to talk with them about the importance of passing House Bill 135. If you need help scheduling an appointment, please let Exa Méndez know and she will do it for you, you can either call her (781) 595 7570 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Watch this short documentary on youth homelessness or organize a film screening with your church and share information about youth homelessness. For more information or ideas to do a screening, contact Exa (email@example.com) to watch the documentary, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?
– Read Tina’s story and share it with your friends, family and network: http://mahomeless.org/
We can’t pass this bill without your support! Help us make sure that teens and young adults in Massachusetts have a safe place to sleep, we only have until June 2014 to make this possible or the bill will “die”!
Thank you for your solidarity and support.