Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Robert Portman (R-OH) introduced S. 2653, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, on July 24. S. 2653 would expand the HUD definition of “homelessness” to include unaccompanied children and youth who are defined as being homeless under other federal statutes such as the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act or the Higher Education Act. This change would mean that children or youth who are living in a “doubled up” housing situation or living in a hotel or motel would be counted by HUD and therefore eligible to receive assistance through HUD homeless assistance programs.
The bill would also require HUD to make data available to the public on the cumulative number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, the cumulative assessment of the patterns of assistance provided for under the bill for each geographic area, and a count of the number of families and individuals experiencing homelessness documented by each applicant for HUD homelessness assistance.
Bill proponents assert that service providers seek the expanded definition to better serve families and youth who are unstably housed, and for whom there are inadequate federal resources to meet their housing needs. Opponents counter that the bill does not authorize additional funding to support those who would be newly identified as homeless, thereby spreading already inadequate assistance even thinner.
The measure has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
The text of S. 2653 is at http://1.usa.gov/1mf1VcI.