In 2018, Senate Bill 6560, Ensuring that no youth is discharged from a public system of care into homelessness, passed unanimously (House and Senate) in a strong bipartisan commitment to reducing homelessness among our most vulnerable population.
According to a recent report from Komo News regarding young people living on the street, Seven out of 10 young people released from state-funded programs in 2015 came out of behavioral health- the rest from criminal justice and child welfare, according to a new state report. One year later, one-quarter of the youths were found to be in unstable housing and homeless.
Releasing young adults into an unstable environment puts them at significant risk for physical assault, sexual assault, robbery and sexual and commercial victimization, the report says. There are real doubts whether the Department of Commerce, Office of Homeless Youth, and Governor have the right approach.
This is heartbreaking! Our State must focus on preventing students and our youth from becoming homeless and providing opportunities to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. This is not about giving a fish- we need to be teaching them how to fish and providing them and families the skills to be successful. Preventing homelessness is not only the right thing to do morally and ethically, but it is the most fiscally responsible approach.
The latest reports indicate a failure by the State to protect children and families, and show a lack of commitment to reducing homelessness. The same-old Olympia big-government approach does not work- and most certainly is not in the best interest of at-risk children. The state needs to do a better job supporting early identification and early intervention.
Solutions must include building strong families, building stable homes, and building programs that provide opportunities for every student and every family to be successful. The State is releasing these children without the necessary life skills and in unstable environments.Peter Abbarno, candidate for State House in the 20th Legislative District, business owner, attorney, and Centralia Mayor Pro Tem.