WASHINGTON—Homelessness in America is a profound demonstration of our country’s failure to ensure safe, decent and affordable housing for all. Whether the people experiencing homelessness are adults or children, whether they are doubled up or living on the streets, public policy should address their needs. Only in recent years has public policy to end homelessness begun to show consistent results through a carefully targeted use of a housing first model. Our country should expand our efforts to end homelessness, but as we do so, we should be careful not to disrupt proven solutions in progress. Therefore, the National Housing Conference (NHC) opposes the Homeless Children and Youth Act, S.256.
NHC joined other housing stakeholders in a letter to Senate appropriators today explaining our opposition to S. 256. In brief, we believe that the bill would expand the definition of homelessness to include people who are doubled-up long term without providing any new funding to address their needs. Given that the homelessness response system is already underfunded to the point that 31 percent of homeless people are unsheltered, expanding the definition will not in itself expand the amount of assistance.
“Assistance to end homelessness, like many other areas of housing need, needs a much stronger public commitment,” said Chris Estes, president and CEO of NHC. “However, expanding the number of people eligible and expanding the funds available for assistance have to happen together. Otherwise, the system doesn’t work.”
Other practical concerns guide our opposition to the bill. It would place an unfunded mandate on localities to expand their survey of people experiencing homelessness to include those who are doubled-up long term, and it would limit HUD’s ability to strategically allocate its resources, which could undermine successful cooperation between the federal agency and local governments.
NHC shares with virtually all housing stakeholders a commitment to ending homelessness. Although at times members of the housing community may disagree on the practical steps, we believe our shared mission will unite us around solutions based on evidence of effectiveness.
About the National Housing Conference
The National Housing Conference represents a diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, Realtors®, equity investors, and more, all of whom share a commitment to safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. We are the nation’s oldest housing advocacy organization, dedicated to the affordable housing mission since our founding in 1931. We are a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings together our broad-based membership to advocate on housing issues. Learn more at www.nhc.org.
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