Rep. Waters Unveils Landmark Legislation to End Homelessness in America

Willie Grace | 3/23/2016, 10:59 a.m.
Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, introduced landmark legislation that would provide significant ...
Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, introduced landmark legislation that would provide significant resources to end homelessness in America. The measure is a bold effort to declare what is really needed to address this crisis.

The legislation provides $13.27 billion in new funding over five years to several programs and initiatives that will help the nearly 600,000 Americans who are currently homeless -- over 170,000 of whom are unsheltered, over 83,000 of whom are chronically homeless, and nearly 130,000 of whom are under the age of 18. These new resources will provide access to both housing and supportive services to help the homeless achieve safe, decent, and affordable housing as well as long-term, positive life outcomes.

“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,” Rep. 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,” Rep. Waters continued. “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.”

The measure, entitled “The Ending Homelessness Act of 2016,” is designed as an emergency relief bill that would provide immediate funding to address homelessness in America, targeting those areas where homelessness has reached crisis proportions. This approach is similar to other emergency relief and recovery bills that provided critical funding during the height of a crisis, including the Hurricane Katrina emergency relief funding bills of 2005 and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

Rep. Waters’ legislation includes the following funding amounts over and above what is already annually provided for these existing U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs:

· $5 billion in McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants funding, with a significant portion of the funding targeted for chronically homeless individuals and families, which is expected to fund approximately 85,000 new permanent supportive housing units;

· $2.5 billion for special purpose Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV), which is expected to provide affordable housing for homeless families, youth, and individuals on an ongoing basis and create an additional 295,000-300,000 subsidized HCV units;

· $1.05 billion annually in mandatory spending dedicated to the National Housing Trust Fund, which in the first five years of funding is expected to create approximately 25,000 new units affordable to extremely low-income households, ensuring that rents are affordable for tenants;

· $500 million in outreach funding to ensure that homeless people are connected to the resources they need; and