Archive for October 12th, 2011

12th October
written by Andre Wade

Today’s guest post comes to us from Alliance policy and program analyst André Wade.

Between October 3 and October 7, Senator Patrick Leahy (VT-D) hosted an exhibit of the HighLow Project in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of homeless and at-risk youth.

Senator Leahy is responsible for the reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act in 2008, a federal program that serves homeless young people.

The HighLow Project is a collaboration between photographer Ned Castle and the Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs. The collection of photographs tells the compelling stories of youth in Vermont based on real “high” and “low” points in the lives of these youths. The photographs are a sobering reminder of the realities that many vulnerable youth experience.

Luckily, we can change the lives of these young people by changing the “highs” and “lows” that impact their lives. We can influence the direction that their lives take through responsible federal policy and accessible social services:

  • Ensure programs, such as the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), are fully authorized and appropriated at levels that increase the amount of services and housing options for youth. Underfunded or defunded programs deny youth the opportunity to seek education, employment, and self-sufficiency. Currently, RHYA is not fully authorized and is funded only at $116 million.
  • Encourage policymakers and decision-makers to learn about the realities of youth homelessness. Access to affordable housing, higher education, employment, and other social services are necessary to prevent and end youth homelessness. When at-risk and homeless youth are marginalized or ignored, the do not have the opportunity to rejoin society in a productive and fulfilling way.
  • Raise awareness of America’s at-risk and homeless youth through advocacy. By becoming part of the solution through civic engagement and public policy, we can make a meaningful, positive impact on this vulnerable population.

Photo courtesy of the HighLow Project.