House bill HB844 requires the State Office of Youth Services to coordinate a two-year pilot program for at-risk youth in partnership with private organizations. It is designed to provide advice and guidance for youth seeking a physical, safe haven from social troubles.
“As the youngest legislator at the Hawaii State Legislature, I want to send out the message that our youth are a priority,” said Rep. Gates. “We hear you, and want you to have a safe place to go, away from immediate danger, social injustice, even addictions.”
Hawaii also has a serious youth homelessness issue. Studies have shown that 46 percent of runaway and homeless youth reported being physically abused, 38 percent reported being forced into unwanted sexual activity by a family or household member, and 75 percent of homeless or runaway youth have dropped out of school, according to 2016 National Conference of Legislature article, “Homeless and Runaway Youth.”
“We want kids to know that there will be help available to them in times of need,” said Rep. Gates. “That is what we’re fighting for.”
The House committee on Human Services has scheduled a hearing for HB844 on Friday, February 3, 2017 at 9:00am in Room 329.
Co-sponsored by 19 other State Representatives, it has also been referred to the House Finance Committee.