OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law HB 1905, introduced by state Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, to provide more services and resources to help ensure young people have access to housing when they’re leaving a publicly funded system of care, such as foster care, behavioral health treatment or juvenile rehabilitation.
“No young person should be released into homelessness after they’ve been in a system of care,” Senn said. “By providing the supports youth and young adults need to find and keep safe, stable housing, we can break the cycle of homelessness before it starts.”
The legislation lays out four approaches that provide flexibility to help meet young people’s needs in local communities that have different strengths and gaps.
One approach requires the state Department of Children, Youth and Families and the Office of Homeless Youth to create a rapid response team that connects young people who are exiting systems of care and at risk of homelessness with services.
Another approach in the bill directs the Office of Homeless Youth to provide flexible system of care grants that support youth, including through housing and financial support, behavioral health services, legal assistance, case management, and education and employment support.
“House Bill 1905 advances the state’s goal that all youth exiting public systems of care exit to safe and stable housing,” said Kim Justice, executive director of the Office of Homeless Youth. “The data is clear on why this is important — youth and young adults served in foster care, juvenile justice, and inpatient behavioral health are at increased risk of homelessness when they exit these systems. It is our responsibility as a state to ensure that young people are transitioned to stable environments and that we don’t create pipelines into homelessness.”
“In 2018, the Legislature passed a bill, SB 6560, committing to not releasing youth into homelessness from public systems of care. While we unfortunately didn’t provide the tools needed to accomplish this, that changes with this new law,” Senn added.
HB 1905 passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support.