Tlaib Introduces Bill to Address Youth Homelessness 

DETROIT Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) introduced the Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act. This bill establishes a new way to address youth homelessness in our country. The bill will launch a pilot program providing direct cash assistance to emancipated minors and young adults under 30 years old experiencing homelessness in the amount of $1,400, or the adjusted fair market rent, for 36 months and then studies the effects of the program on housing and health outcomes, among other impacts. 

“We can’t keep repeating the same policy approaches that haven’t ended the youth homelessness crisis. By providing direct cash assistance, we can address our housing crisis while respecting the autonomy and dignity of the folks receiving assistance,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “This bill came directly from young people with lived experience. They helped craft the bill to ensure that it meets the real needs of our unhoused neighbors. In the richest country in the history of the world, it’s time to eradicate homelessness. The Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act brings us closer to that goal.”

In a given year, over 3.5 million young adults and roughly 700,000 young people experience some form of homelessness, with specific groups facing a much higher risk than others. Black young people, for example, have an 83 percent greater risk of being unhoused, while LGBTQ+ youth have a 120 percent higher likelihood of experiencing homelessness compared to others. From 2022-2023, the number of unhoused young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 increased 17 percent.

Recent studies providing cash assistance to unhoused people have found that they improved housing and employment outcomesdid not lead to increased substance abuse, and saved money by reducing reliance on the shelter system. However, the study of cash assistance is relatively rare in the U.S., and recent studies of cash assistance to address homelessness have been small, geographically targeted, and have not specifically focused on young people. It is time to demonstrate the benefits of direct cash assistance for young people experiencing homelessness, which is why the Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act is needed. More importantly, participants in past cash assistance programs have described the impact as life changing. Cash assistance provides individuals with the freedom to make their own choices about how to address their unique circumstances.

This legislation is cosponsored by: RepresentativesCori Bush (MO-01), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Barbara Lee (CA-12), and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09).

This legislation is endorsed by: A Way Home America, Detroit Justice Center, Homeless Action Network of Detroit,  Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, MiSide Community Impact Network, Ruth Ellis Center, National Homelessness Law Center, Center for Popular Democracy, Campion Advocacy Fund, Community Solutions, Corporation for Supportive Housing, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Point Source Youth, True Colors United, Youth Collaboratory, Larkin Street Youth Services, Mockingbird Society, and SaySo.

“As the Executive Director of A Way Home America, an organization that places great value on lived experiences, I am sincerely honored to stand at the forefront of national advocacy, fervently championing the cause of direct cash transfers,” said Marcella Middleton, Executive Director, A Way Home America. “Our shared ambition is to proactively prevent the hardships faced by our most vulnerable youth, while simultaneously offering them the essential ingredients of stability, empowerment, and a promising future.”

“The Youth Homelessness Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act is a welcomed first step towards addressing the ongoing issue of homelessness and the manner in which unhoused residents are disproportionately impacted by the criminal system,” said Nancy Parker, Executive Director, Detroit Justice Center. “Our current system fails to address known root causes, and instead, substitutes prisons and jails for actual policies that address the confluence of indigency and egregiously high housing costs in this country. This bill represents a long overdue shift away from the flawed carceral approach towards a more just city.”

The full text of the bill is available here.

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