NPACH Statement: Senate Banking Committee Approves McKinney-Vento Legislation
Yesterday, the Senate Banking Committee approved S. 1518, legislation to reform HUD's McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs. If enacted, the bill would make important improvements to current federal policy on homelessness. Many of these positive changes are part of the legislation thanks to the hard work of advocates and service providers from around the country who provided comments and recommendations to Senators and their staff members. Without grass roots efforts, we would not have seen these gains.
Unfortunately, S. 1518 continues to inadequately address our concerns in three fundamental areas.
- Definition of homelessness - the bill's language requiring multiple doubled up or motel episodes in order to be considered homeless would be difficult for local communities to implement, and as a matter of policy would unwisely prevent many children, youth, and families without homes from accessing HUD homeless assistance.
- Set-asides and priorities - the bill is overly prescriptive in continuing to dictate to communities how funds should be spent, rather than allowing local advocates, service, providers, and government agencies to make these decisions.
- Community participation - an amendment to the bill deleted language to ensure that traditionally underrepresented stakeholders -- such as education liaisons, domestic violence program staff, and youth service providers -- are present "at the table" when homeless assistance grant applications are prepared. In addition, language specifically requiring the needs of homeless veterans to be considered in developing these local applications was removed from the bill.
Before the Senate passes S. 1518, improvements should be made in these key areas.
Next week, we will circulate a detailed analysis of S. 1518 as amended. Timing for the bill's consideration on the Senate floor remains uncertain. We believe that opportunities to make changes will be available, and will continue to inform you of those opportunities as they arise.
We, and many of our partners, believe that the HEARTH Act - H.R. 840 - provides a significantly better framework for McKinney-Vento reauthorization. We look forward to working with all of you, and with key House Members, to ensure that HEARTH's important provisions become law.
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