Josiah Quincy School seventh graders take their homelessness advocacy to the Statehouse

Josiah Quincy Upper School seventh grade students met Dorchester state Rep. Dan Hunt on Dec. 10 at the Statehouse. (Image courtesy of Gillian Pressman for Generation Citizen.)

Josiah Quincy Upper School seventh grade students met Dorchester state Rep. Dan Hunt on Dec. 10 at the Statehouse. (Image courtesy of Gillian Pressman for Generation Citizen.)

Seventh grade students from Josiah Quincy Upper School, a Boston Public School located in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood, are working to address youth homelessness in Massachusetts as part of the Generation Citizen action civics educational program that partners with their classroom.

As part of their project, the students have identified MA Bill H119 – An Act to End Child Homelessness (H.119), sponsored by Representative Denise Provost (D-Somerville), as a promising solution to child homelessness.

The students are lobbying their Massachusetts state representatives and senators, as well as members of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, to advocate for the passage of the bill, and will be organizing a Lobby Day on Dec. 10 at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Delaney, a seventh grader in the Josiah Quincy class explains, the bill would “make sure the family has a place that is up to code to stay in before they get evicted.”

Another student, Sabrina, describes the importance of the bill: “We want to stop low income families from getting evicted. Families are breaking apart in the shelter system, and they are being separated. It’s unhealthy for the homeless to stay outside in the winter.”

Adds Kevin, another student: “this bill is important because it will give children, like me, a home to call home.”

The students identified youth homelessness as a major problem in their community because they personally knew several young people afflicted.

While Massachusetts’ homelessness population has seen a 45% increase from 1997 to 2010, Massachusetts’ population of homeless children has increased by 72%.

Students were also able to attend Generation Citizen’s “Civic Tech Challenge” hackathon event on Saturday, November 7th at Microsoft NERD, in which they teamed up with local data scientists and compiled a data visualization to showcase these and other statistics, available : http://gcjqus.wix.com/passbill119#!homelessness-statistics/component_41229

Bill H119, sponsored by Representative Provost, would require the development of housing plans for families with minor children that are being evicted from publicly subsidized housing.

These students are leading change on homelessness as part of the Generation Citizen program. Generation Citizen (www.generationcitizen.org) is an action civics nonprofit that provides an action-based civics education program to over 3,000 Greater Boston area young people, in which young people work with local leaders to drive policy change on real local issues.

Generation Citizen’s mission is to ensure that every student in the United States receives an effective action civics education, which provides them with the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in our democracy as active citizens.

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