Homeless youth services are scarce as problem remains

Jeremiah Carter testifies before the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee March 20 in support of a bill sponsored by Rep. Laurie Halverson, left, that would provide funding for Homeless Youth Act activities. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

Jeremiah Carter was 19 years old when he became homeless, he told the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee Thursday. He wanted to live independently, but didn’t know how to do that responsibly. Carter said his life was headed down the wrong path until he connected with a homeless youth program when he was 20. Through the program he met other youth seeking to change their lives, obtained his GED and began attending college.

The organization Carter found and others like it could benefit from the $4 million requested in HF2203, sponsored by Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan). It would go toward the Homeless Youth Act, which creates a grant program for emergency shelters, drop-in services and other youth homeless services across the state.

The committee laid the bill over for possible inclusion in its omnibus bill. A companion, SF2194, sponsored by Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), is awaiting action by the Senate Finance Committee.

While homeless youth are often escaping danger at home, they face new risks on the streets, such as involvement in crime, trafficking and a lifetime of homelessness, Halverson said.

Last session the Legislature provided $4.2 million in funding for the Homeless Youth Act, which the Department of Human Services distributed through grants to 30 organizations. The department received grant requests totaling around $20 million, Halverson said. Of those requests, $10 million would extend the reach of currently operating, but underfunded, programs, she said.

Just over 4,000 youth are estimated to be homeless each night in Minnesota, said Brian Pittman, a researcher on a homeless youth study conducted by Wilder Research. The estimate accounts for youth who are not participating in a formal service.

POINT(114.177987 22.321702)
  • For the life of me I cannot understand why the politicians are so reluctant to act on bills that would aid at least some young people that are homeless. In the last few days legislators of BOTH parties were tripping over themselves to reduce taxes. At the same time bills to raise the state's minimum wage which would aid many young workers languish because some fear indexing based on the CPI, though most economists feel that inflation for 2016 and '17 will be quite low. One gets the the idea of the politicians priorities: tax relief over aiding those who need help the most - by on Sat, 03/22/2014 - 12:23pm

Our primary commenting system uses Facebook logins. If you wish to comment without having a Facebook account, please create an account on this site and log in first. If you are already a registered user, just scroll up to the log in box in the right hand column and log in.

Andrea Parrott's picture
Andrea Parrott

Andrea Parrott is a freelance writer from the 'burbs. (Twitter: @andrea_parrott)