Should the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act be amended to expand the definition of homelessness used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

This bill amends 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. It aligns the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of homelessness with the definitions used by other federal programs. It also expands the definition of chronically homeless to include other household members. The bill requires the HUD, which currently prioritizes certain housing models, to score applications primarily on whether or not they are cost-effective in meeting the priorities and goals that communities set in their local plans. It makes the community-wide homeless management information system (HMIS) data publicly available on the Department of HUD website. The bill also requires local governments and nonprofits that receive HUD funding to connect homeless children and families to education, child care, mental health, and employment services. Sponsor: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California) View full bill text ➔

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Opponents say

    "The Alliance strongly opposes the Homeless Children and Youth Act (S. 1469) because it would wreck the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) homelessness program and make it far less likely that homeless families will ever be housed.  At the same time, the legislation would not benefit the people it is ostensibly designed to help–families living doubled up–who actually need more rental assistance and more investment in affordable housing in order to set up their own households.  The Homeless Children and Youth Act would change the definition of “homelessness” to allow insecurely housed youth and families, who are housed but living doubled up, to be eligible for HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) program, which serves actually homeless families and individuals, those living in shelters or on the streets.  While doubled up families and youths do have serious housing needs, the vast majority are not literally homeless. If they are literally homeless or even imminently homeless (i.e., will not be able to stay where they are), they actually meet HUD’s definition of homelessness." Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness

Proponents say

    "Federal agencies use different definitions of homelessness to determine who is eligible for benefits, causing widespread confusion that leads to an inability of our most vulnerable populations to receive assistance, especially when youth homelessness is involved… Simply aligning the definition of homelessness used by federal agencies will remove significant barriers to obtaining critical assistance, while ensuring that homeless children can receive all the resources available to them. This is an easy fix that will have an outsized effect and I urge the Senate to consider it quickly." Source: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California)

    "Homelessness makes a child more vulnerable to illness and to crime, including human trafficking… The effects of homelessness on a child can last a lifetime. It is in all of our interests to ensure that vulnerable kids get a roof over their heads in a safe and stable environment. Our common-sense reforms will help do just that and make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids across our country." Source: Sen. Rob Portman (Republican, Ohio)