On March 23, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services Maxine Waters (D-CA) introduced legislation to provide significant resources to end homelessness in the United States. The bill would dramatically increase resources for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance grants, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), among other programs.
“The Ending Homelessness Act of 2016” (H.R.4888) provides $1 billion annually in mandatory spending for the NHTF in perpetuity, as well as $50 million a year for project based rental assistance for NHTF units. Rents would be based on tenant income.
The bill also provides funding over five years for housing and supportive services programs and initiatives above what these programs already receive, including:
- $5 billion to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program, expected to produce approximately 85,000 new permanent supportive housing units with special targeting to chronically homeless individuals and families,
- $2.5 billion for special-purpose Section 8 vouchers targeted to persons and households who are homeless based in geographies of greatest need as determined by the HUD Secretary,
- $500 million for outreach efforts to ensure that homeless people are connected to the resources they need, and
- $20 million for technical assistance to help states and localities align health and housing systems.
“It is all too common to hear Members on both sides of the aisle express their concerns about the homeless, but it takes more than sympathy to address this issue; it takes robust resources,” Ms. Waters said. “That is why today I introduced a bill that will finally provide the funds necessary to end homelessness in this country. For far too long, we have lacked the resources to help all of those in need and I urge my colleagues to support this bill if they are serious about achieving this goal. It is simply shameful that there are nearly 600,000 homeless people living on the streets in the richest country in the world. But this is not an insurmountable problem. We know how to end homelessness in America; what is lacking is the political will to put the necessary resources behind the solutions we know will work.”
Responding to the introduction of H.R. 4888, NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley said, “The National Low Income Housing Coalition enthusiastically supports Representative Maxine Waters’s (D-CA) bold new bill that tackles the unacceptably high levels of homelessness in our country. The “Ending Homelessness Act of 2016” proposes considerable new resources for the only answer to homelessness – affordable housing. There is ample evidence of the high cost of homelessness to communities and health care and criminal justice services, but most of all to the well-being of people who lose their homes. The toll that homelessness takes on the health, mental health, and education of children is immense. We can afford to end homelessness; we can’t afford not to.
The bill was introduced without cosponsors. It has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on the Budget.
Read the bill at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4888/text
Read Representative Water’s press release at: http://1.usa.gov/1RgQLqR