On Thursday, October 1st, the House passed a revised version of the HEROES Act, a $2.2 billion stimulus package responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
While this legislation provides important resources (see summary below), it falls short of the kind of assistance that is needed to meet the education, health, and housing-related needs of children and youth who experience homelessness. Specifically, the Heroes Act fails to include:
- Funding directed to identify, enroll, and support children and youth experiencing homelessness through the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program; EHCY is the only federal program that removes barriers to the identification, enrollment, and support of homeless students; without it, many homeless students will not be identified and connected to school.
- Direct flexible funding to community agencies to meet the unique housing, health, and other emergency needs of children, youth, and families who experience homelessness under the broader education definition of homelessness, such as provided by the Emergency Family Stabilization Act (H.R. 7950/S. 3293). Most homeless children and youth are not eligible for the HUD homelessness assistance provided through the Emergency Solutions Grant funding in the HEROES Act. Flexible funding through the Administration for Children and Families at HHS is needed to stabilize families and youth through the systems to which they are most connected.
- Means by which unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness may access stimulus payments.
SchoolHouse Connection urges readers to take action today to ensure that these measures are included in any final coronavirus relief package.
Selected education, early care, and homelessness provisions in the revised Heroes Act are summarized below:
- $208 billion for a State Stabilization Fund:
- $175 billion for K-12 education. While funds may be used for activities authorized under the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, they are not required to be used for this purpose. Only two state education agencies are directing CARES Act education dollars to homeless students, and initial results from SchoolHouse Connection’s survey of local educational agencies indicate that less than one in five LEAs is using CARES Act funding for homeless students.
- $27 billion for public postsecondary education, including emergency financial aid to postsecondary students for housing, food, technology, health care, and child care.
- $4 billion for Governors to address educational needs
- $11.9 billion for general postsecondary education (covers private institutions, HBCU’s, etc).
- $50 billion for Child Care Stabilization Grants.
- Priority for subgrants is given to child care providers that served children experiencing homelessness prior to March 1, 2020.
- Providers must give priority for child care slots (including temporary slots) to children experiencing homelessness.
- $7 billion for Child Care Development Block Grants.
- Children experiencing homelessness are prioritized for CCDF funds.
- $1.7 billion appropriation for the Head Start program.
- Funds will be disbursed in proportion to the number of children who are enrolled in an agency’s program.
- Children experiencing homelessness under the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act are prioritized for Head Start enrollment.
Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC)
- Lowers the age that youth from foster care and youth who are homeless could claim the EITC to age 18, and also allows foster and homeless youth to claim the EITC if they are full-time students and working.
- By allowing these youth to claim the credit during the time they are transitioning to adulthood, the legislation helps to create parity with young adults of the same age who are fortunate enough to be receiving financial support from parents or caregivers.
- $5 billion for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program. Most children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness are not eligible for these funds, nor does the ESG program meet their complex needs.
- Renew funding for grantees awarded Continuum of Care funding in 2019.
- A 12-month moratorium on non-payment eviction proceedings for all renter and homeowners.
- Prohibits fees, fines, and extra charges due to nonpayment of rent.
It does not protect persons staying in hotels/motels, nor those who are temporarily staying with others.
Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization
- $50 billion appropriation to address emergency rental needs.