Take Action to Help Homeless Children and Youth – No Matter Where They Sleep.
Reforming HUD Homeless Assistance
On April 29, 2021, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) collectively reintroduced the Homeless Children and Youth Act (HYCA) to remove barriers to HUD Homeless Assistance for children, youth, and families.
HCYA removes barriers to HUD Homeless Assistance for children, youth, and families. The definition of homelessness used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 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. These situations are unstable and often unsafe, putting children and youth at high risk of trafficking and violence. 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.
In addition, HUD has imposed strong federal incentives and requirements for certain housing models, like Rapid Rehousing, and for certain populations, like chronically homeless adults, that do not match all communities’ needs. Even when communities identify greater needs for other populations or program models, they must adopt HUD’s national priorities in order to be competitive for funding. HUD Homelessness Assistance has not been reauthorized in a decade, and must be updated to meet the needs of children, youth, and families, and to prevent future adult homelessness.
The Homeless Children and Youth Act (S. 1469) was introduced in the U.S. Senate on April 29, 2021. S.1469 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House in coming weeks.
April 29, 2021
Bipartisan Legislation to Help Homeless Children and Youth Reintroduced
Get the facts about the Homeless Children and Youth Act, including frequently asked questions, the full text of the legislation, and a list of supporters.
On April 29, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (S.1469) was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein and (D-CA), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
This bipartisan legislation corrects long-standing flaws in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless assistance for children, youth, and families.
April 1, 2019
Homeless Children and Youth Act Reintroduced
The Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 2001) was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) during the 116th Congress, receiving a total of 19 cosponsors.
July 24, 2018
A Big Win: House Committee Passes the Homeless Children and Youth Act
HCYA reflects the actual experience of homelessness as lived by children and youth. Destiny Dickerson, SchoolHouse Connection Scholar and incoming first-year student at San Diego State University, explained HCYA’s importance in this blog, “Homelessness: They Just Don’t Get It”.
On July 24, 2018, the House Financial Services Committee passed the bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act, H.R. 1511. The legislation, co-sponsored by Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), may now be considered by the full House of Representatives. A bipartisan Senate companion bill, S. 611, is led by US Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rob Portman (R-OH).
The Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA) would remove barriers to HUD homeless assistance for families and youth by 1) aligning HUD’s definition of homelessness with other federal agencies; 2) allowing HUD homeless assistance funds to be used to meet local needs; and 3) increasing visibility through data transparency.
An op-ed published in The Hill also raised the visibility of this issue, noting that “one group of extremely vulnerable children has not yet made headlines, largely because their suffering occurs out of sight: the 1.3 million children and youth who experience homelessness each year.”
Following the Committee’s passage of HCYA, a number of advocacy groups released a statement hailing the vote: “Today’s vote was a big step towards ensuring that today’s homeless children and youth don’t become tomorrow’s homeless adults. We urge Congress to act quickly to pass this critical legislation.”
June 6, 2018
House Hearing on Homeless Children and Youth
On June 6, the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing to review the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511).
- Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection
- Kat Lilley, Deputy Executive Director, Family Promise of Colorado Springs
- Millie Rounsville, Chief Executive Officer, Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency Inc. of Superior, WI
- Steve Berg, Vice President of Programs and Policy, National Alliance to End Homelessness
A key topic of the hearing was how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of homelessness creates barriers to assisting children, youth, and families who experience homelessness.
Witnesses also challenged assertions that family and youth homelessness is decreasing, and described the shortcomings of HUD’s Point in Time counts and Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). They gave examples of how children and youth who meet the U.S. Department of Education definition of homelessness are as vulnerable as those who meet HUD’s definition, yet are barred from being assessed for services because of where they happen to be sleeping.
The most poignant testimony came from Kat Lilley, who described her personal experience of homelessness as a mother of six, and her frustration and heartbreak at being unable to assist families in motels or doubled-up situations who do not meet HUD’s narrow definition, but whose vulnerability put them in dire need of services.
Barbara, Kat, and Millie shared examples of how HUD’s national priorities don’t match local needs, preventing communities from serving the neediest people, and resulting in high-performing transitional housing programs that serve youth and families losing funding in recent years.
In sum, the hearing revealed the urgent need for the changes in HUD homelessness policy included in the Homeless Children and Youth Act, and helped counter criticisms of the legislation.