Happy New Year, Everyone! During the holidays, I came up with a small list of resolutions our government should make in 2011 regarding the plight of homeless and runaway teens in our country:
Housing – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Health and Human Services should get together to offer funding for housing and support services for our teens. HUD should re-open funds for transitional housing, which is critical for the success of our teens—they are NOT chronically homeless and most do not have a severe enough disability to be eligible for permanent supportive housing—and DHHS, through the Family Youth Services Bureau, should offer funds for support services directly linked to the housing funds. These services would include case management, food, clothing, furnishings, medical and dental, family planning, and everything else we all currently provide for these kids. So, come on HUD and DHHS, what do you say?
Top Billing – Homeless and runaway teens and young adults should be DHHS’ and HUD’s top priority. They should resolve that in order to truly end homelessness in this country, these kids will be a priority focus this coming year and for at least the next 10 years.
Congressional Resolve – Both houses of Congress should resolve to end their neglect of these kids, as demonstrated by the paltry funding that continues to be dedicated to them, by resolving to dramatically increase funding to the Runaway/Homeless Youth Act, to transitional housing funds through HUD, and to other programs that serve these teens.
I’m sure there are many more I could up with, but these will do for a start. My BIG question to the Universe, Congress, and anyone else who will listen is, “When will we get that helping young people get off the streets is SOOOOO much cheaper and SOOOO much more effective than waiting until they are 45, addicted to everything on earth, in horrible health, with terrible mental health conditions? It is SUCH a no-brainer for me.
Somehow, we need to find the time and the voice to make sure that our government knows the story, that they see it EVERY day, and that they DO NOT ignore this most important story.
So, perhaps our New Year’s resolution should be to be the VERY loud, SQUEAKY wheel that gets the grease!
Harriet Boorhem is the president of Promise House, which provides a multitude of services to homeless youth in the Dallas area, and Youth Today's first online diarist.