YouthCare’s 2023 proposed state legislative agenda looks holistically at the needs of our young people, our staff, and our organization. While we ask for increased investment in our work, we are also mindful of where this funding comes from. We refuse to accept a zero-sum game approach to policy and budgeting and ask that programming for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness does not come at the expense of other essential programs and services for vulnerable communities. Instead, we ask legislators to support new, progressive revenue sources.
This legislative agenda is organized around broad themes that advocacy efforts will support this year: investments in expanding the social safety net, advancing economic justice, and supporting the needs of unaccompanied minors.
Expand the Social Safety Net for Young People
Budgets are moral documents. We will advocate for state budgets that invest in needed programming and services for young people. Sample policies in this area include:
• Funding for YouthCare’s Broadway & Pine Youth Center;
• Housing contract increases that are (at minimum) commensurate with inflation;
• Housing vouchers and long-term supports for young people exiting public systems of care;
• Investments in behavioral health;
Advance Economic Justice & Pass Progressive Revenue
Washington State has the most upside-down tax code in the nation. Our overreliance on sales tax deepens inequality: the bottom twenty percent of income earners Washington State pay more than five times their annual income in taxes than the top one percent of earners. As our country faces yet another recession, the legislature must pass progressive revenue to increase economic opportunity, advance racial equity, and ensure there is a strong and well-funded continuum of human services and housing options in our state. Alongside progressive revenue, we will advocate for measures that mitigate economic inequality for our clients and staff.
Sample policies in this area include:
• Supporting a Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program for families and individuals furthest from financial security;
• Investments in homeless service workforce compensation;
• Progressive revenue;
Supporting the rights & needs of unaccompanied minors
We believe that young people experiencing homelessness should have the ability to advocate for their needs with trusted adults. We seek to honor youth voices and will support policies that enable them to live in safe, healthy environments. We support policies that would allow youth and young adults to receive extended foster care services, and consent to shelter in instances where they are not safely able to return home.