October 03, 2019

Harris, Murray, Hirono, Gillibrand Announce Comprehensive Legislation to End Homelessness

Sens. Harris, Murray, Hirono, Gillibrand, and Rep. Waters’ legislation makes landmark investments to confront homelessness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), along with Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), on Thursday announced the Ending Homelessness Act, a comprehensive plan to confront homelessness in our country. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced the Ending Homelessness Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation passed the House Financial Services Committee in March and is expected to reach the House floor.

“Housing is a human right – yet too many people don’t have a safe place to call home. We must act quickly to tackle our country’s homelessness crisis head on with serious investments in programs that get at the root causes of this issue,” said Sen. Harris. “This is our best chance to make a difference and put roofs over people’s heads. The Ending Homelessness Act has already passed out of committee and is likely headed to the House floor soon. The women and men who woke up this morning on a bench or under an overpass cannot afford to wait. I’m proud to work with Congresswoman Waters, Senator Murray, Senator Hirono, and Senator Gillibrand to help make homelessness a thing of the past, both in California and around the country.

“The Ending Homelessness Act is a bold and crucial step forward in our work to help the people and families across our nation who struggle with homelessness,” said Sen. Murray. “As a voice for Washington state in the Senate, I’m proud to support this bill, which would empower local communities to provide affordable housing for their most vulnerable residents, and I will continue fighting to ensure every family in Washington state and across the country has access to a safe, stable, and secure home.”

“Across Hawaii and our country, we continue to face a pervasive housing and homelessness crisis, and yet this administration continues to take steps that make it more difficult for families to access safe, affordable homes," said Sen. Hirono. “The Ending Homelessness Act will provide significant investments in a number of critical programs to expand our nation’s affordable housing stock as well as tackle the circumstances that lead to vulnerable populations experiencing homelessness.”

“No one should ever be without a place to call home, but in the United States we are seeing far too many families facing homelessness. Congress should be doing more to stop this crisis,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “The Ending Homelessness Act would help end chronic homelessness by funding housing organizations across the country that provide critical services to people who don’t have access to affordable housing. Safe and reliable housing is absolutely essential for the health of our communities. I am proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Harris, Senator Murray, Senator Hirono, and Congresswoman Waters, and I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this bill.”

“In the richest country in the world, it is simply unacceptable that we have people living in the streets,” said Chairwoman Waters. “Today, there are over a half million people experiencing homelessness nationwide. Nearly 160,000 of them are children and nearly 38,000 are veterans who we have failed to support after their service to our nation.

“In Los Angeles County, there are over 50,000 people experiencing homelessness, nearly 5,000 of whom are children, and over 3,800 of whom are veterans.

Chairwoman Waters continued, “As Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, I have made it a top priority to focus on this crisis. That is why I have introduced the Ending Homelessness Act of 2019, which would provide $13.27 billion in new funding over five years to federal programs and initiatives to prevent homelessness.

“It is time for Congress to step up and provide the resources and funding necessary to address this important issue and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that every American has a safe, affordable place to call home.”

The Ending Homelessness Act will appropriate billions in mandatory emergency relief funding over five years to critical federal housing programs, including construction of new affordable housing units, and support the improved coordination between supportive housing and health care initiatives. This legislation will lead to the construction of 410,000 new affordable housing units.

Specifically, the Ending Homelessness Act includes the following:

  • $5 billion over five years for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants to fund an additional 85,000 new permanent supportive housing units, which should effectively eliminate chronic homelessness across America.
    • Uses a revised funding formula to ensure that resources are distributed accurately to communities based on need.
    • Funds may also be used for any eligible activities under McKinney-Vento, including transitional housing, rapid rehousing, and emergency shelters.

 

  • $2.5 billion over five years for new Special Purpose Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to fund approximately 300,000 additional housing vouchers and gives preference to people experiencing homelessness or those who are at risk of experiencing homelessness.

 

  • $5 billion over five years in mandatory annual appropriations for the National Housing Trust Fund to create 25,000 new rental units that are affordable to extremely low-income households, with a priority for housing for people who are experiencing homelessness, in the first five years. 

 

  • $500 million over five years for outreach funding to state and local jurisdictions on competitive basis to provide case management and social services for people who are experiencing homelessness, or formerly experienced homelessness.

 

  • $20 million for states and localities to integrate healthcare and housing initiatives to fund technical assistance for state and local governments to help coordinate their supportive housing and health care initiatives that are funded by federal programs.

This bill is supported by a variety of housing, veterans, and mental health organizations, including: the Center for Supportive Housing, Community Solutions, Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, Drug Policy Alliance, Leading Age, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Housing Conference, National Housing Law Project, National Housing Trust, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Rural Housing Coalition, PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), Public Housing Authority Directors Association, Stewards for Affordable Housing for the Future, and TELACU Residential Management.

“NHLP is grateful to Senator Harris for her work to end homelessness,” said Shamus Roller, Executive Director of the National Housing Law Project. “In a decade, HUD demonstrated that with federal funds for evidence-based practice, significant progress is possible. Providers have stretched McKinney-Vento grant funding to reduce national homelessness by 15% since 2007. Senator Harris' bill would fully fund this program and make important improvements to bring an end to U.S. homelessness within 5 years.”

Text of the legislation can be found here.

A fact sheet on the bill can be found here.

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