From the Field: Texas Motor Vehicle Registrants May Now Contribute to New Ending Homelessness Fund

The Texas State Legislature passed and Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed into law on September 1, 2017 the creation of a statewide Ending Homelessness Fund, which allows motor vehicle registrants the option of contributing to the new fund. The fund, to be administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), will provide grants to counties and municipalities to combat homelessness.

As of January 1, 2018, Texans may now opt to contribute any amount they wish to the Ending Homelessness Fund when they submit a new, or renew an existing, motor vehicle registration online or in-person at county tax assessor-collector offices, substations, and participating subcontractor locations, including some grocery stores, across the state.

Contributions to the fund will help increase the number and improve the quality of emergency shelters, prevent families and individuals from experiencing homelessness, encourage self-sufficiency among people experiencing homelessness, and assist homeless individuals and families secure stable housing.

Texas Homeless Network (THN), an NLIHC state partner, advocated for the creation of the Ending Homelessness Fund, and THN President and CEO Eric Samuels testified for it before the Texas State Senate Transportation Committee. THN will continue its advocacy work on the Ending Homelessness Fund in 2018 by participating in roundtable discussions facilitated by TDHCA to determine the priorities the agency should adopt as it creates and implements rules for use of the fund. The act requires TDHCA to adopt rules governing applications for grants and the issuance of those grants.

“The effects of homelessness can have wide-ranging consequences, both on families and communities,” said Tim Irvine, TDHCA executive director. “The donations collected through the Ending Homelessness Fund will help assist in efforts to counter those effects, help build stronger community engagement and outreach, and deliver crucial services and delivery of aid to those most in need.”

Data from HUD’s most recent point-in-time count estimate that more than 23,000 Texans are considered homeless, including approximately 7,000 living on the streets and more than 16,000 living in shelters and transitional housing. Data from NLIHC’s most recent The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes report indicate that Texas has only 29 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 of the state’s 878,000 extremely low income renter households—those living below the federal poverty level or 30% of their area median income.

“I meet people from all over the state who share our compassion for those experiencing homelessness, but who aren't sure how to help—how they can fit into supporting solutions to homelessness, because of their limited time or resources,” said Mr. Samuels. “This fund allows concerned fellow Texans an opportunity to contribute in a tangible way and to join us in this effort to end homelessness in Texas.”

For more information, contact Eric Samuels at: eric@thn.org