03/31/2019

Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) have introduced the “Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act, a bill to increase federal resources to battle homelessness. Specifically, the bill authorizes $750 million in grants annually for the next five years for local governments to combat homelessness.

As a way to address the root causes of homelessness, this legislation for the first time would condition federal funds on a grant recipient’s ability to provide not only housing but also comprehensive services like mental health care, substance abuse treatment and job training. Grant recipients would be required to provide 25 percent of project funds and report on measures of success, including whether individuals remain housed.

“Addressing homelessness is a moral imperative and our approach should always be compassionate and holistic. Reducing homelessness also saves money. In order to break the cycle of homelessness that impacts so many people in Los Angeles and elsewhere, we have to combine housing with social services and programs,” said Congressman Lieu. “Funding a more holistic approach helps improve the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable, and provides local governments with the resources to address the specific needs of their communities. I’m proud to partner with Senator Feinstein and this bipartisan, bicameral group of Senators and Members who care deeply about addressing homelessness.”

“Homelessness has reached crisis levels in California and continues to grow nationwide. While our state is a model for the country in so many ways, homelessness is one area where we can and must do better,” said Senator Feinstein. “We know the root causes of homelessness vary and can include mental illness, drug addiction and poverty. That’s why our bill requires housing to be paired with services to address those root causes. Local governments, particularly those in California, are already taking action to combat homelessness; this bill will help them be even more proactive and effective in their efforts.”

“Homelessness is frequently a symptom of a deeper problem. People who struggle with mental health issues, addiction problems, or economic challenges can end up homeless. Alaska’s harsh environment is an unforgiving place for those who do. And the issue of homelessness is further complicated by many of the challenges Alaska is facing as a state: a lack of mental healthcare services, a statewide substance abuse epidemic, and the highest unemployment rate in the nation,” said Senator Murkowski. “This legislation will help communities coordinate the services that help to address those underlying problems, with culturally relevant services – including the effects of overcrowding – while taking into account each individual or a family’s specific needs. Housing is the foundation of a healthy life, and so we must do more to break the cycle and protect our future generations.”

“In far too many cases, homelessness is just a symptom of other issues facing the vulnerable members of our communities,” said Congressman Stivers. “Encouraging the partnership of housing and wrap-around services to treat underlying problems, like mental health or substance abuse, is important in addressing the epidemic facing our country, and I am proud to partner with Senators Feinstein and Murkowski, and Congressman Lieu on this bill.”

In addition to Senators Feinstein and Murkowski, the Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

In addition to Representatives Lieu and Stivers, the House bill is cosponsored by Representatives Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Lou Correa (D-Calif.), Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.).

What the bill does:

  • Authorizes $750 million annually for five years to fund supportive housing models that provide comprehensive services and intensive case management.
  • Requires a 25 percent match for services and housing from non-federal funds.
  • Allows grants to be used for any combination of operations and capital building costs, as long as housing and services requirements are fulfilled.
  • Requires grantees to track outcomes and report on housing stability and improvements in health and wellbeing, including education of children.

Grant eligibility and requirements:

  • Grants may go to local governmental entities consisting of cities, counties, regional collaboratives and tribal governments.
  • Services must address issues including mental health; substance use disorders; disabling or other chronic health conditions; educational and job training/employment outcomes; and life skills classes.
  • Intensive case management must be provided with a ratio of no greater than 1 case manager to every 20 people served.
  • When serving families with children, services available must also include children’s behavioral and mental health services, early childhood education, regular and age-appropriate children’s programming and activities, child health and nutrition screening and education and parenting classes and support programs.
  • Services must also have in place protocol for staff training and best practices to identify and prevent child trafficking, abuse, and neglect.

Support for the bill:

“Here in Los Angeles, we know that homelessness is the most urgent moral and humanitarian crisis of our time – and ending it will require an all-hands-on-deck effort from leaders at the local, state, and federal levels. Senator Feinstein is doing right by the people of California by bringing solutions to the table in Washington, D.C., and we look forward to working with her to deliver services, support, housing, and hope to everyone who needs a roof over their heads,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“San Francisco has been at the forefront of efforts to help our homeless residents into care and shelter, protect tenants so they can stay in their homes, and create more low and middle-income affordable housing. Senator Feinstein’s bill to increase federal funding for affordable housing and critical support services for people experiencing homelessness will help provide the resources we need to expand our work and help more of our unhoused residents get the help they need,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

“Homelessness is a national crisis reaching deeper and deeper into every American community – urban, suburban, rural and tribal – and it demands sustained federal investment to help end it. Our coalition of 24 Republican and Democratic mayors represent nearly 17 million residents; our partner CEOs represent companies that reach tens of millions of people in our communities. Together, we proudly support The Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act and we will fight for its passage into law,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the founding mayor of Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment.

“As cities all over the country grapple with the issue of homelessness, here in San Diego we have dramatically changed our approach to getting people off the street. Last year state leaders recognized that cities shouldn’t bear this burden alone and stepped up with significant financial support. I appreciate Senator Feinstein bringing this bill forward as it acknowledges that all levels of government, working with the private and nonprofit sectors, have a responsibility to address this crisis head-on,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer.

“A quarter of our nation’s homeless live in California, many of them outdoors under freeway overpasses, in parks, along rivers or on the doorsteps of businesses and public buildings This is a humanitarian, safety and public health crisis that is negatively affecting the quality of life in our cities. This bill would provide vital resources to for every level of government to partner in funding the housing and wrap-around services that are proven to be the best way to help people reclaim their lives,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

The Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act is supported by more than 90 individuals and organizations including the mayors of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento, as well as the Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment, National Alliance to End Homelessness and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The bill number is S 923.

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