Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Early Learning & Human Services Committee

HB 1436

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning homeless youth prevention and protection.

Sponsors: Representatives Kagi, Zeiger, Robinson, Walsh, Walkinshaw, Pettigrew, Senn, Johnson, Orwall, Ortiz-Self, Reykdal, Carlyle, Gregerson, Appleton, Fitzgibbon, Ormsby, Clibborn, Jinkins, Bergquist, Goodman, McBride, Pollet, Riccelli and Kilduff; by request of Governor Inslee.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Creates an Office of Homeless Youth Programs (Office) within the Department of Commerce (COM).

  • Requires the Office to lead efforts to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to homeless youth with a focus on four stated service priorities: (1) stable housing; (2) education and employment; (3) permanent connections; and (4) social and emotional well-being.

  • Authorizes the Office to provide the management and oversight of HOPE Centers, Crisis Residential Centers (CRCs), street youth services, and Independent Youth Housing Programs (IYHPs).

Hearing Date: 2/4/15

Staff: Ashley Paintner (786-7120).


Programs for Street and Homeless Youth.

The Children's Administration (CA) of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) administers a number of programs regarding the care of street and homeless youth such as HOPE Centers and Crisis Residential Services (CRCs).

HOPE Centers. In 1999 the Washington State Legislature passed the HOPE Act, which created HOPE Centers. HOPE Centers provide temporary residential placements for street youth under the age of 18. Youth may self-refer to a HOPE Center for services and entering a center is voluntary. While residing in a HOPE Center, youth undergo a comprehensive assessment in order to develop the best plan for the youth. The assessment includes gathering information on the youth's legal status, and conducting a physical examination, a mental health and chemical abuse evaluation, and an educational evaluation of their basic skills, along with any learning disabilities or special needs. The plan will focus on finding a permanent and stable home for the youth.

Crisis Residential Centers. Crisis Residential Centers (CRCs) are short-term, semi-secure facilities for runaway youth and adolescents in conflict with their families. Youth cannot remain in a CRC more than 15 consecutive days. Counselors at a CRC work with the family to resolve the immediate conflict and develop better ways of dealing with the conflict in the future. The stated goal of CRCs is to reunite the family and youth wherever possible. In 1995 Washington State implemented policies for at-risk youth intended to protect children and help families reconcile. The "Becca Bill" established Secure Crisis Residential Centers (SCRCs) and authorized law enforcement to pick up runaway youth or youth found in dangerous circumstances and place them in a SCRC.

Other Youth Housing Programs.

Independent Youth Housing Program (IYHP). The Department of Commerce (COM) operates the IYHP, which provides rental assistance and case management for eligible youth who have aged out of the state foster care system. These funds are intended to assist in meeting the state goal of ensuring that all such youth avoid experiencing homelessness by having access to decent, appropriate, and affordable homes in a healthy and safe environment.

Home Security Fund.

Both the state and county homeless housing programs receive funding through a local homeless housing and assistance surcharge. The surcharge is $40 per recorded document and applies to certain documents relating to real property specified in statute. The state's share is deposited into the Home Security Fund. The COM uses these funds for a number of homeless housing programs, with at least 45 percent of the state's share set aside for the use of private rental housing payments.

Homeless Families Services Fund.

The Homeless Families Services Fund is in the custody of the State Treasurer and the COM may expend monies from the fund to provide state matched funds for housing-supportive services for homeless families.

Summary of Bill:

The Office of Homeless Youth Programs (Office) is created within the COM and must be operational no later than January 1, 2016. The Office is responsible for leading efforts to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to homeless youth with a stated goal of preventing state systems from discharging youth and young adults into homelessness. There are four stated priority service areas: (1) stable housing; (2) education and employment; (3) permanent connections; and (4) social and emotional well-being. The Office shall address practice gaps within the state system among these four priority service areas. Regular consultation must occur between the Office and an advisory committee comprised of advocates, service providers, and other stakeholders knowledgeable in the provision of services to homeless youth and young adults.

The Office is authorized to provide the management and oversight of HOPE Centers, CRCs, street youth services, and IYHPs. Crisis Residential Centers (CRCs) must record client information into a homeless management information system specified by the COM. By December 1, 2016, the Office must submit a report to the Governor to inform recommendations for funding, policy, and best practices in the four priority service areas. Additionally, the Homeless Families Services Fund is renamed the Washington Youth and Families Fund.

Definitions are provided for the following: child, juvenile, youth, and minor; homeless; homeless youth; runaway; street youth; unaccompanied; young adult; administrator; child in need of services petition; crisis residential center; HOPE center; secure facility; semi-secure facility; and staff secure facility.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.