In 2023, SHC was a strong voice for effective and responsive federal policy. SHC:

  • Engaged with more than 100 congressional offices to share information, connect them to their constituents, and advocate for policies to improve the lives of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. 
  • Held a Congressional briefing featuring our young leaders.
  • Submitted many public comments to federal agencies and met with agency leaders.
  • Expanded our federal policy team in October to include Senior Manager for Federal Policy who brings more than seven years of federal policy development and advocacy, including six years as staffer in the U.S. Senate. 
  • Launched an advocacy network to educate, support, and create opportunities for local educators, service providers, and advocates across the country to advance federal and state policies on child and youth homelessness.

Below is a summary of our key 2023 federal policy activities, and a look ahead at our 2024 federal legislative priorities.

Child Care

Led the drafting and submission of public comments, signed by twenty organizations, on proposed federal regulations to improve access to federal child care assistance for children experiencing homelessness and children with child welfare involvement.

Funding for PreK-12

  • Advocated successfully for new federal guidance to clarify and broaden the permissible uses of American Rescue Plan-Homeless Children and Youth funds, including writing and organizing a letter to the U.S. Department of Education that was signed by twenty major national education associations and that was reported on by Politico.
  • Mobilized support for a bipartisan “Dear Colleague Letter” signed by 89 U.S. Representatives concerning appropriations for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, which is the only federal education program that specifically removes barriers to the identification, enrollment, and success of children and youth who experience homelessness. As of December 2023, both the House and Senate FY2024 appropriations bills maintain last year’s increased investment in the EHCY program, and the Senate bill contains strong language to improve the amount and use of Title I Part A to support students experiencing homelessness.

Higher Education

  • Advocated successfully for strong federal guidance, issued in April 2023, to help financial aid administrators understand and implement these changes to remove barriers for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Our May webinar on the FAFSA Simplification Act featuring presenters from the U.S. Department of Education drew over 3,000 registrants. 
  • Wrote and submitted two sets of public comments to the U.S. Department of Education on the proposed 2024-2025 FAFSA form–in April and most recently in October.
  • Organized support for the reintroduction of the bicameral Fostering Success in Higher Education Act, legislation to improve college access, retention, and graduation rates for foster and homeless youth. 

    Access to Housing and Homeless Assistance

    Co-led advocacy for the introduction of the Homeless Children and Youth Act in the US House of Representatives, H.R. 5221, which is bipartisan legislation to remove barriers to homelessness assistance for children, youth, and families by amending the definition of homelessness used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to align with federal programs serving children and youth. 

      Raising Awareness

      Supported a bipartisan, bicameral resolution. Congress designated November 2023 as “National Homeless Children and Youth Awareness Month” to bring national attention to child and youth homelessness. The Senate Resolution was led by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and signed by 11 Senators. 2023 was the first year that a resolution was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and was led by U.S. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Don Bacon (R-NE). 

      Early Childhood

      • In January, SHC will respond to proposed rules for Head Start that undercut the prioritization and enrollment of homeless children, while also urging clearer provisions on attendance and transportation.
      • SHC will continue to advocate for increased and more targeted funding across early childhood programs so that families with children experiencing homelessness can access services, and to work with federal agencies to clarify and strengthen implementation of existing laws and regulations.

      PreK-12 Education

      SHC will continue to advocate for federal actions to ensure the effective use of American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth funds, and to protect and increase investment in the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program in the FY2024 and FY2025 budgets.

      Higher Education

      • SHC will continue to advocate for robust implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act, including urging the U.S. Department of Education to take strong measures to ensure marginalized students have access to financial aid.
      • The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth (HEASHFY) Act. In 2020, the bipartisan FAFSA Simplification Act enacted many critical improvements to the financial aid process for homeless and foster youth that were first suggested by previous versions of this legislation. HEASHFY goes further to remove barriers in college for homeless and foster youth and ensure they have clear and reliable pathways into and through higher education. At this time, SHC is working on the re-introduction of this bipartisan, bicameral bill in 2024. 
      • The Housing for Homeless Students Act would update the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program to allow full-time students to live in LIHTC housing if they’ve experienced homelessness within the last seven years. The bill also includes homeless or formerly homeless veterans pursuing full-time education. SHC is working on reintroduction in both the House and the Senate, with intentions to introduce a bipartisan, bicameral bill in 2024.

        Reforming Homelessness Assistance

        The Homeless Children and Youth Act removes barriers HUD Homeless Assistance for children, youth and families. The definition of homelessness used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development excludes most children and youth whose families pay for a motel room, or who must stay with other people temporarily, because there is nowhere else to go. Other federal agencies and programs recognize that children and youth staying in these situations are homeless. But under HUD’s definition, these children and youth are not even assessed for services. The House introduced the bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act to respond to these concerns, and SHC is working on reintroduction in the Senate, with intentions to re-introduce a bipartisan bill in 2024. 

          Flexible Funding for Community Agencies

          During the pandemic, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate and House introduced the Emergency Family Stabilization Act to provide flexible funding directly to community-based organizations to meet the needs of children, youth, families, and unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness during that time. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exasperated the homelessness crisis in this country particularly for children, youth, and families. That is why SHC is working with Congressional offices to update and reintroduce this legislation in 2024. 

          SHC's Ongoing Efforts in a Shifting Federal Policy Landscape

          SHC recognizes that federal policy is ever-evolving and is committed to advocating and advancing priorities important to children and youth experiencing homelessness in every possible way. 

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