On January 27, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Homeless Children and Youth Act (S. 256). On the same day, Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced a companion bill in the House (H.R. 576). Both bills were introduced in the last Congress, but were not taken up in either chamber.
The bills would amend the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to expand HUD’s definition of “homelessness” to include unaccompanied children and youth designated as homeless under other federal statutes such as the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and the Higher Education Act. This change would mean that children and youth who are living in “doubled up” housing situations or hotels and motels would be counted by HUD as homeless and thus eligible to receive assistance through HUD homeless assistance programs.
The bills 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 the number of families and individuals experiencing homelessness documented by each applicant for HUD homelessness assistance.
Supporters of the bills assert that the expanded definition will allow service providers to better serve families and youth who are unstably housed and whose housing needs are not currently being met through existing federal assistance programs. Opponents argue that the bills do not provide additional funding to support the increased number of people who would be defined as homeless, thereby spreading already inadequate resources even thinner.
S. 256 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. H.R. 576 has been referred to the Committee on Financial Services and to the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
The text of S. 256 is at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114s256is/pdf/BILLS-114s256is.pdf