Senators Urge Treasury to Ensure People Experiencing Homelessness Receive Economic Relief Payments

Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and 28 of her Senate colleagues sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on February 3 urging the Treasury Department to publish specific procedures addressing how people experiencing homelessness can access the stimulus payments provided in the latest coronavirus relief package.

“People experiencing homelessness have been disproportionately impacted by the negative health effects of COVID-19 and the unprecedented economic crisis that has followed,” the letter stated. “Overcrowding in shelters, the lack of basic hygiene and sanitation in outdoor encampments, and barriers to accessing health care and economic opportunities are added challenges that people experiencing homelessness have faced over the past nine months. While it is clear that we all must do more to provide safe, stable housing for these individuals, we also must ensure that these communities are not left behind as the Treasury Department distributes economic relief payments.”

The letter also urged the Treasury Department to offer expanded guidance for individuals who do not need to file taxes and provide additional options for people with limited or no internet access to claim their payments. The senators suggested Treasury should work with HUD to conduct outreach to local Continuums of Care and social service organizations, which have experience disseminating resources and information to people experiencing homelessness.

Senator Smith led a letter last April encouraging then Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to issue similar guidance for economic impact payments provided in the CARES Act (see Memo, 4/13/20). NLIHC assisted the senator’s office in drafting both letters.