Massachusetts makes commitment to better serve unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness
On Tuesday, January 6th, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law groundbreaking legislation to better serve unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness here in Massachusetts. The legislation, House Bill 4517: An Act promoting housing and support services to unaccompanied homeless youths, will provide the infrastructure for a coordinated statewide response to unaccompanied youth homelessness. It will do so by addressing the need for housing and supportive services for youth and young adults age 24 and younger who are experiencing homelessness outside the care and custody of a parent or legal guardian. In addition, the law ensures the continuation of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, first established through the state’s fiscal year 2013 budget.
State Representative Jim O’Day of West Boylston filed the initial version of the bill back in 2011, in partnership with a group of advocates and providers led by the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless (“the Coalition”). The bill was filed again at the start of the current legislative session in 2013 by Representative O’Day and then-State Senator (and current U.S. Representative) Katherine Clark of Melrose. The current version of the legislation gained final passage in both the House and Senate on December 31st.
“We are thrilled that the state is more deeply committing to address the unmet needs of unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness out on their own. We are grateful to Governor Patrick for making the signing of this landmark bill one of his final acts as Governor. In the weeks and months ahead, we look forward to renewing our work with the Legislature, to establishing new partnerships with Governor-Elect Baker’s Administration, and to expanding the network of community members engaged in the process of making sure that the promises of this law become reality for the thousands of unaccompanied youth across the Commonwealth,” said Kelly Turley, Director of Legislative Advocacy at the Coalition.
(photo credit: Eric Haynes)