May 5, 2008
Please see the below alert from the National Alliance to End Homelessness:
We have an incredible opportunity to expand funding and programs for permanent housing solutions to homelessness with the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. Let’s get the strongest bill we can with high priority on housing solutions to homelessness.
What To Do:
- Please call your House Member, especially those on the Financial Services Committee*, and ask him or her to contact Rep Waters** and Rep Capito*** in support of the Manager’s Amendment to the HEARTH Act.
* The House Financial Services Committee is the committee with jurisdiction over this legislation.
** Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA) is the Chair of the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over this legislation – the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity of the Committee on Financial Services.
*** Rep Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) is the Ranking Member (highest ranking Republican.)
Why Act Now?/Current Status of the Legislation
House: The House legislation, HR 840, the HEARTH (Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing) Act was introduced by the late Representative Julia Carson (D-IN) with lead Republican Representative Geoff Davis (R-KY) in February 2007. Two hearings were held in October. It is the intention of the Financial Services Committee to hold a markup of legislation in the next few weeks. Rep Waters, Chair of the Subcommittee with jurisdiction (Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity of the Financial Services Committee), will offer a manager’s amendment making significant changes to the HEARTH Act and greatly improving its impact on the goal of ending homelessness.
Senate: S 1518, the Community Partnership to End Homelessness Act, was introduced by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) with lead Republican Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) in May 2007, passed the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and awaits action on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
The goal is to ensure the two pieces of legislation are similar to enable quicker enactment and a permanent solutions focus.
What the Legislation, With the Manager’s Amendment, Will Do/The Details
It promotes permanent housing as the solution to homelessness by:
- Funding permanent housing renewals from the account that funds Section 8 vouchers which would provide stability for renewals as well as free up funding for other new projects.
- Makes law the practice of establishing a 30 percent set aside for permanent housing for people with disabilities, including both individuals and families.
- Requires HUD to create an incentive (probably a bonus program) for rapid rehousing programs for families.
- At least 10 percent of funding will be dedicated to permanent housing activities for homeless families regardless of disability status.
- Adds families to the definition of chronic homelessness making chronically homeless families eligible for the same permanent supportive housing programs that chronically homeless individuals are.
- Requires HUD to continue special incentives for permanent supportive housing for those who experience chronic homelessness.
Modifies the definition of homelessness to include those who are at imminent risk without expanding the definition in a way that would result in fewer resources being directed towards those who the program is intended to serve – those literally on the street, in shelters or transitional housing.
- Expands the definition to include people who couch surf – move from place to place because they can not find a stable living situation.
- Retains a targeted definition of homelessness to ensure that homeless assistance continues to focus on its mission of meeting the emergency needs of people with no place to live and help them move into permanent housing.
Does a better job of preventing homelessness by increasing assistance to families and others who are doubled up or otherwise in unstable, difficult housing situations, before they end up in shelters or on the streets.
- Changes the name of the Emergency Shelter Grants program to Emergency Solutions Grants program and requires that 20 percent of homeless assistance funding be for ESG and that at least half the ESG amount be for prevention and rehousing.
- Expands prevention activities under ESG.
Assists rural communities by creating a separate rural competition, simplifying the application and providing flexibility with regard to the eligible population and use of funds.
- Allows continuums that are entirely rural or are in rural states to apply under a simplified set of criteria and in a separate competition so that rural areas only compete against other rural areas.
- Programs could serve people who are homeless or in the worst housing situations.
- Up to 20 percent of funding could be used for capacity building activities.
Streamlines and simplifies the program.
- Consolidates the programs into a single Community Homeless Assistance Program.
- The agency applying for the grant would be called the Collaborative Applicant; communities could choose to designate the lead agency as a Unified Funding Agency with additional responsibilities including subgranting all funds to the project sponsors.
- Match requirement would be changed to a uniform 25 percent of the total grant, would be applied community-wide not project by project and could be cash or in-kind. Grants that had previously had no match requirement (SHP leasing grants) would not have to be matched.
- McKinney-Vento funding for rental subsidies, leasing, operating costs, or services would not count as a grant for the purpose of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which means it would not count against eligible basis.
- Operating costs would be redefined to include service coordination.
- “Reasonable amounts” could be used for staff training.
- Collaborative Applicants would be eligible to receive a 3 percent administrative fee; Unified Funding Agencies would be eligible to receive a 6 percent administrative fee.