On Thursday legislation to put Minnesota on the path to fully funding the Homeless Youth Act (SF 3155) and end youth homelessness in Minnesota was heard in the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee. The legislation, a longtime priority of Chief Author Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), would be a substantial down payment on providing the funding necessary to ensure every youth in Minnesota is able to find access to stable and supportive housing.
“The number of young people in our state on their own, disconnected from their families and communities, is an ongoing crisis. The disastrous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic only making matters worse,” said Senator Dibble. “The state has not done what is necessary to address this foundational need for these youth, but now we have a historic opportunity to do so. With an unprecedented budget surplus, this year we can end youth homelessness as we know it in Minnesota by fully funding the Homeless Youth Act. The only thing we can’t afford is to miss this opportunity.”
The Homeless Youth Act (HYA) was established in 2006. It allows the Department of Human Services to provide grants for street and community outreach and drop-in programs, emergency shelter programs, and integrated supportive housing and transitional living programs to reduce the incidence and consequences of homelessness among youth. According to the YMCA of the North, 4,876 youth are experiencing homelessness on any given night in Minnesota, a number that disproportionately affects BIPOC and LGBTQIA youth, and which also represents over half of the total number of Minnesotans experiencing homelessness.
“Without stable housing or additional support services, these youth aren’t just left behind, they’re never given a chance,” said Senator Dibble. “This legislation is necessary and critical, and can be the difference in the lives of thousands of Minnesotans who would now be able to live full lives of dignity. I hope we can finally get this done this year.”
Current funding for the HYA is only $11 million per year, far short of what is necessary to end youth homelessness. Today’s legislation would provide a $50 million investment in the HYA. The legislation was supported by many organizations, including Catholic Charities, The Link, YouthLink, Oasis for Youth, 180 Degrees, Avenues for Youth, The Bridge for Youth, Lutheran Social Services, and the YMCA of the North.