HYP Blog - Voices from the Street
A service provider in Toronto, Eva’s Initiatives provides an interesting model for thinking about homeless youth and their families that contrasts with the US perspective. In the US, the myth of the incorrigible youth fleeing home out of defiance for the family rules is still unfortunately pervasive, and as a result advocacy organizations and researchers must spend time defending them as having left home due to abuse and neglect from families who are unwilling or unable to support them. Eva’s Initiatives and other Canadian programs are working on challenging the notion that families of origin are a lost cause, and for good reason. According to a recent study of their Family Reconnect program,
“The work of the Family Reconnect program demonstrably improves relations between many young people who participate in the program, and family members. Even where relations have not been completely reconciled, there is often an increased understanding of the nature of family conflict that helps young people and families move forward with their lives. The housing and material circumstances of young people improve as a result of program involvement. With appropriate supports, many move off the streets, either back home or into independent living.”
This November will be California’s second year celebrating Runaway and Homeless Youth Month, which coincides with National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month.
On October 4th, 2011 Assembly Bill 1111, Fletcher (R) 75th District, was signed by the Governor and chaptered into law. This bill would prohibit a court from garnishing wages or levying a bank account to collect fines or penalties against a person under 25 years of age who has been issued a citation for status offenses such as truancy, loitering, curfew violations, or illegal lodging if the court finds that the young person is homeless or has no permanent address. AB 1111 authorizes a court to collect such fines when that person is 25 years of age or older, or if the individual obtains permanent, stable housing.
The bi-partisan Assembly Select Committee on Homelessness, chaired by Assemblymember Toni Atkins, has been holding a series of public hearings to shine a spotlight on homelessness in California. The third of these hearings will focus on homeless youth, women and families. The hearing will be held next Wednesday, July 27, from 1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. at the Ronald Reagan State Building, 300 South Spring Street, in Los Angeles. For more information about the hearing and the Select Committee, and to submit comments to committee members, please contact Lindsey Masukawa in Assemblymember Atkins’ office, at Lindsey.Masukawa@asm.ca.gov.
In our 2008 documentary, Voices from the Street: Homeless Youth Speak out on State Policy. we highlight the issue of wage garnishment for homeless youth who receive citations that they cannot pay. Last week, Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher (R) San Diego, passed AB1111 through the Assembly, which will temporarily freeze wage garnishments until the youth turn 25. For more information see, Fletcher’s bill to help homeless youth approved.
Hear from a local (San Francisco) community based organization on the unique challenges and strengths of homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth through their newly introduced series, Larkin Street Stories: The Homeless LGBT Experience. This web series is sponsored by the Homelessness Resource Center.