WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing today to review a legislative proposal to help break down barriers that prevent homeless children and youth from obtaining housing assistance and services through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
H.R. 1511, the “Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2017,” introduced by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA), would amend the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to meet the needs of homeless children, youth, and families, and honor the assessments and priorities of local communities.
“We held this hearing today to dive a little deeper into the definition of homelessness. More specifically, we will look to uncover how HUD’s definition is creating barriers and impacting our federal government’s ability to keep our families out of poverty. The most jarring fact that I noticed in testimony is HUD’s definition of homelessness doesn’t match the definition used by other federal agencies. We’ve seen this in several government programs. We tend to amend the law by passing various bills over the years and the federal government ends up with different definitions for the same subject matter. For instance, the NFIP has varying definitions that don’t make sense when talking about the different levels of repetitive loss properties. We need to make sure that the definition of homelessness is uniform throughout all federal programs,” said Subcommittee Chairman Sean Duffy (R-WI). “As a father of eight, I was touched by the testimony of one of our witnesses, Ms. Lilley. What she has gone through to support her six children while trying to navigate the definition of homelessness is a testament to her strength. I believe her story, along with the testimony of others, will shine a light on why we need to address HUD’s definition of homelessness to make sure we are doing all we can for our impoverished families.”
Topline Quotes from Witnesses
“The Homeless Children and Youth Act… is bi-partisan legislation that includes critical reforms to align HUD homeless assistance with other federal systems, and to allow communities to use HUD funding more flexibly, effectively, and appropriately to meet the needs of all populations – including children, youth, and families… We implore you to enact it so that the promise of every child and youth may be realized, and homelessness will cease to rob millions of children, youth, and adults of their human potential.” – Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection
“We, as communities and a nation are working to serve the most vulnerable when addressing homelessness. To truly accomplish this, we must stop excluding children and youth from the conversations and allow them to have equal access to the current housing assistance and services. The Homeless Children and Youth Act does just this.” – Kat Lilley, Deputy Executive Director, Family Promise of Colorado Springs
“… HUD homeless assistance eligibility criteria exclude some of the most vulnerable homeless children and youth from accessing the programs and services that they need… The HCYA [Homeless Children and Youth Act] would allow communities to serve the homeless children, youth and families they identify as most in need of assistance, by aligning HUD Homeless Assistance eligibility criteria with other federal programs… This legislation will help us improve outcomes for many homeless families and youth in my community.” – Millie Rounsville, Chief Executive Officer, Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency