The 2019 legislative session included many topics that directly impact our vision of preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness. With so many important issues at stake, the A Way Home Washington team was a constant presence at our state capitol. We brought in our Anchor Community teams for an Advocacy Day and even spent a snow day in Olympia.
We were humbled to see an outpouring of support for young people from partner organizations and legislators, and we are proud of the young people who bravely advocated for their peers. Here’s what we accomplished together in the 2019 legislative session:
- The Office of Homeless Youth (OHY) was funded at the $8.5 million level. This includes $4 million for the Anchor Community Initiative, our flagship project, and $1.25 million for the Arlington Drive Youth Campus. Anchor Community Initiative funds will be split evenly between Pierce County, Spokane, Yakima and Walla Walla for these communities to invest in services for youth and young adults.
- The Washington Youth and Families Fund and the Homeless Student Stability Program maintained their base funding of $4 million each. The Homeless Student Stability Program received an additional $157,000.
- The Senate passed SB 5290, eliminating juvenile detention for non-criminal offenses, such as truancy and running away. Youth are less likely to come forward and request the services they need when they fear the possibility of detention. Now, youth will be able to request these services without fear.
- The House passed HB 1657, expanding access to HOPE Center beds and requiring at least two youth representatives on the Office of Homeless Youth Advocacy Committee. This provides youth experiencing homelessness additional service options and fosters a youth-centered approach to our work.
These legislative victories position our state closer to preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness. We are deeply thankful to every person who elevated the issue during the legislative session, especially to all the advocates who showed up at the capitol and all the legislators who did right by our young people. We also want to give a special thank you to Advocacy Coordinator for the 2019 legislative session, Matt Kanter, who brought innovation and passion to our advocacy efforts. What were your favorite moments from the 2019 legislative session?