It’s being pushed by SHIP in Frederick County.
Frederick, Md (KM) Legislation to allow unaccompanied minors to ask for housing and other assistance will be coming before the Maryland General Assembly this year.
Ed Hinde, the Executive Director of Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership–or SHIP– is supporting the bill. He says many kids who are under 18 and homeless must have a parent or guardian ask for assistance on their behalf. He says there are “literally thousands of kids” who do not have parents or legal guardians, and, as a result, cannot seek or ask for shelter and other services on their own. “As a service provider here in Frederick County, we’re been really anxious to house children, to shelter children that are in desperate need who have very few other options,” he says.
Hinde says these children cannot be placed in foster homes. “You have to be considered to be either abused or neglected to be able to qualify for foster care in this state. That’s not a condition. There are many children that are kind of caught in this gap between foster and frankly not having any control over their housing,” he says.
SHIP is in the process of establishing a program called THRIVE. Hinde says it’s a network of volunteer families who will take in homeless young people under certain conditions. But he says the current law will not allow these families to provide housing for an unaccompanied minor. “If we can get this bill passed, we hope one day to be able to begin to house and shelter minor-age youth. At this point in time, our program only allows 18 and older,” he says.
Hinde says Delegate Carol Krimm is working with him on this bill, and trying to line up co-sponsors in the General Assembly. He also says State Senator Ron Young has agreed to co-sponsor a similar bill in the Maryland Senate.
He was in Annapolis last week, trying to line up supporters for the legislation, which he hopes will pass.
“Unfortunately, we live in a day and time where many youth are no longer living in their family households for a multitude of reasons, and are floating at best. Some are living on the streets, in cars, and so on and so forth,” says Hinde. “And we felt compelled as a service provider to find shelter for them. These are kids.
By Kevin McManus