During this year’s annual budget appropriations process, $1.5 Million was appropriated for addressing youth homelessness. The Ending Youth Homelessness Act, previously passed in the 2018 legislative session, set up a grant program through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to expand housing and support services for youth experiencing homelessness.
What action is FreeState urging?
The Ending Youth Homelessness Act, passed in the 2018 legislative session, set up a grant program to expand housing and support services for youth experiencing homelessness. We strongly urge the Appropriations Committee to ensure that funds in this year’s budget be expressly used for this important purpose.
Why is this needed?
In Maryland, there are at least 2,425 “unaccompanied homeless youth,” or youth aged 24 and younger who are unstably housed or homeless and not with a parent or guardian, according to the 2017 Youth REACH count. There are youth experiencing homelessness in every county of our state. Up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and youth of color are also dramatically overrepresented.
Youth REACH Maryland has shown that the levels of youth homelessness that exist in Maryland is much higher than previously identified. While the official number identified is 2,425, the estimated count is much higher than that. With 40% of that count potentially being LGBTQ youth who are at an increased risk of harm simply because of their identity, it is imperative that work is done to assist those effected directly.
Homeless youth are at a higher risk of violence and exploitation and mental and physical health problems. These facts accompanied by the existing barriers to education and employment makes it much more difficult to overcome homelessness and become self-sufficient.