Assemblymembers Andrew Hevesi and Linda B. Rosenthal have announced that the Assembly one-house budget proposal increases funding for these critical programs by $3 million, following their joint advocacy for increased funding for programs that provide support to runaway and homeless youth (RHY) in the FY 2015-16 New York State budget.
As of 2012, the total number of runaway and homeless youth, nearly 40% of whom identify as LGBT, has reached almost 30,000 statewide; however, there are currently only 350 government-funded beds in New York City to serve the nearly 4,000 young people sleeping on streets each night. Because of the dearth of funding and the lack of available beds, more and more young people are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking. While state funding for trafficking victims has increased steadily over the last several years, funding for RHY programs has not kept pace, despite the clear connection.
As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Social Services, Assemblymember Hevesi included funding for RHY among his top budget priorities for this session and championed the increase in the Conference and with leadership.
“Over the last half decade, our state has struggled to meet the needs of Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY),” Assemblymember Hevesi said. “Including $3 million in the Assembly one-house budget language sends a clear message that we stand with our most vulnerable population and will be on the vanguard of actively addressing this issue in New York State.”
Assemblymember Rosenthal spearheaded efforts to build support in the Assembly to increase funding for RHY programs, circulating a letter to her colleagues asking Speaker Carl Heastie to allocate more funding to help this vulnerable population.
“Despite a marked increase in the number of homeless young people in New York, funding for RHY programs has not kept pace, and has actually decreased by 60% since 2008,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “The inclusion of $3 million in the Assembly one-house is a clear recognition that this vulnerable population is in dire need of support and will enable providers to create hundreds of additional beds as well as to provide services to ensure that young people are not sleeping on the street.”
"The Coalition for Homeless Youth is very pleased that the Assembly is adding $3 million to RHY programs in its one-house budget proposal to balance out the supply and demand of shelter services for homeless youth in New York. This truly recognizes the scope of the crisis facing our vulnerable homeless youth population, and the ever-increasing uphill battle faced by the providers who are trying to save lives," said Jim Bolas, Executive Director, Coalition for Homeless Youth.
"Service providers have struggled for years under the weight of providing homeless young New Yorkers with critical resources and shelter as the need continued to grow at the same time as funding dwindled," said Jayne Bigelsen, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives/Co-Director Legal Advocacy, Covenant House New York. "For the first time in a long while, we have received great news from Albany. Covenant House New York is immensely grateful for the leadership of Assemblymembers Linda B. Rosenthal and Andrew Hevesi for ensuring the addition of $3 million dollars in funding for homeless youth in the proposed Assembly budget. If enacted, this funding will go a long way in providing homeless youth with safe places and services to help them thrive while keeping them out of the hands of predators who seek to exploit them."
RHY program providers had requested a modest increase in funding this budget cycle. The proposed 2015-16 Executive budget includes $2.36 million for RHY programs, taking total funding for RHY to $5.36 million.
Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Committee on Social Services, represents the 28th Assembly district, which includes Forest Hills, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood and Kew Gardens in Queens.
Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, represents the 67th Assembly district, which includes the Upper West Side and parts of the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods in Manhattan.