Federal Advocacy & Policy UpdatesA strong voice for effective and responsive federal policy.
SHC’s 2021 Legislative Priorities:
1. Fiscal Year 2022 Funding for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program
The McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program is the only federal program that removes barriers to education for children and youth experiencing homelessness. At its current funding level, less than one in four — 23% — of local educational agencies receive EHCY subgrants. Adequate funding through the annual appropriations process is necessary to ensure that supports provided to students experiencing homelessness through American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth (ARP HCY) funds are maintained, and ensure that these children and youth are offered continuous support as they are reconnected to schools. An appropriation of $300 million would not only sustain these supports, but also allow at least half of schools districts nationwide to access EHCY subgrants.
SHC is advocating for an FY22 appropriation of $300 million to more adequately and expansively address the educational needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.
2. Flexible Funding to Support Homeless Children, Youth, and Families
The number of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness was on the rise prior to the pandemic, and is expected only to have gotten worse. The onset of the pandemic has created many additional barriers to their survival, including higher rates of mobility, risk of exposure to and transmission of the coronavirus, and students being disconnected from school. Coupled with a longstanding exclusion from homelessness assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is imperative that the most vulnerable children and youth are able to access the assistance they need, through the systems to which they are most connected.
The Emergency Family Stabilization Act, would provide direct federal to local flexible funding to community organizations to meet the needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.
3. Remove Barriers to Higher Education for Homeless and Foster Youth
Youth experiencing homelessness and youth who have been in foster care face unique barriers to accessing and completing higher education. Lack of family and supports, coupled with histories of neglect, abuse, etc., create roadblocks on their path to and through post-secondary education. Yet, higher education is their best opportunity for economic independence and healthier lives. Several provisions aimed at removing barriers to financial aid for homeless and foster youth were included in the Consolidated Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) of the 116th Congress. However, there is more work to be done to ensure that homeless and foster youth are given the best opportunity to succeed at the postsecondary level.
SHC is advocating for additional reforms that would assist homeless and foster youth to access and succeed in postsecondary education, including ensuring that these youth receive help from higher education liaisons at each institution, in-state tuition rates, priority for campus-provided housing, and priority placement for Work-Study programs.
4. Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA)
Children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness have been historically excluded from HUD Homeless Assistance, as they do not meet restrictive eligibility requirements. Most children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness stay with others temporarily, or in motels/hotels. These situations are highly volatile and oftentimes unsafe. Despite being recognized as homeless by other federal agencies and having high levels of vulnerability, these children, youth, and families are not eligible to be assessed for and subsequently receive HUD Homeless Assistance.
SHC is advocating for the passage of HCYA, which reforms HUD Homeless Assistance programs by aligning federal definitions of homelessness, allowing children, youth, and families access to the services they need.
5. Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) “Student Rule” Reform
The LIHTC Program provides a reduction in an owner’s tax liability for those who construct or rehabilitate low-income rental housing units. Currently, the program does not allow tenants enrolled in the program to be full-time students. Exceptions are made for part-time students, former foster youth, married students, TANF recipients, and several other student groups. However, homeless and formerly homeless youth are not exempt, and are then forced to choose between housing and pursuing education full-time. If they switch to part-time education in order to retain access to affordable housing, they lose access to scholarships and grants.
SHC is advocating for the passage of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which ensures that full-time students and veterans who have experienced homelessness no longer have to choose between their education and stable housing.
COVID-19 & Homelessness
March 6, 2021 – Senate Passes COVID Bill with $800 Million for Homeless Children and Youth
March 1, 2021 – House Passes COVID-19 Relief Bill: Action Needed to Help Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness
February 6, 2021 – Emergency Help for Homeless Children, Youth, and Families during COVID-19
December 22, 2020 – Final Spending Package Provides Short-Term Help But Much More Must Be Done
October 6, 2020 – House Passes Updated COVID-19 Relief Legislation
August 8, 2020 – Emergency Legislation for Homeless Children, Youth, and Families Introduced
May 19, 2020– Support Homeless Children and Youth in the Next COVID-19 Legislation
May 12, 2020– Support Homeless and Trafficked Children, Youth, and Families in the Next COVID Relief Bill
May 11, 2020 – Joint Statement of Education and Civil Rights Organizations on Equitable Education During COVID-19
April 14, 2020 – Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and Homeless Students
April 10, 2020 – Emergency Financial Aid Grants through the CARES Act
April 8, 2020 – “Phase Four” Coronavirus Advocacy Priorities for Children, Youth, and Families Experiencing Homelessness
April 6, 2020 – Education Waivers Related to Homelessness and Other COVID-19 Federal Waivers
March 26, 2020 – Third Major Coronavirus Legislation Enacted: Includes New Funding to Support Homeless Children and Youth
March 19, 2020 – Congressional Action on COVID-19 and Homelessness
July 21, 2021 – House Appropriations Committee Passes FY22 Spending Bills on Education and Housing
July 6, 2021 – $600M in Additional Funding Announced to Identify and Support Homeless Children & Youth
June 1, 2021 – Take Action to Support Education and Services for Homeless Children and Youth.
April 19, 2021 – Action Needed: Two Homeless Funding Letters, Deadline Approaching
April 8, 2021 – Urgent Action Needed: Support FY22 Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
March 10, 2021 – Congress Passes the American Rescue Act Plan: Funding for Homeless Children and Youth Included
November 19, 2020 – Senate Releases FY2021 Spending Bills
March 2, 2020 – SHC Submits Public Comment on Proposed Study of Federal Education Funding
February 10, 2020 – President’s FY2021 Budget Threatens Educational Protections for Homeless Children and Youth
December 19, 2019 – Congress Passes Final FY2020 Federal Budget
June 19, 2019 – House Approves Funding Increase for Homeless Children and Youth
April 1, 2019 – 68 U.S. Representatives Sign Bipartisan Letter for EHCY-RHYA Funding; Take Action for FY20 Funding
March 22, 2019 – Action Needed by March 26: Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
February 19, 2019 – FY2019 Federal Funding Bill Signed Into Law
September 27, 2018 – FY2019 Funding Bill Passes, Signed Into Law
September 17, 2018 – House-Senate Agreement Increases FY2019 Funding for Homeless Education, Early Care
June 29, 2018 – Senate Bill Would Increase Funding for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program
April 9, 2018 – Breaking News: Action Needed by April 13 to Support FY2019 Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
March 23, 2018 – Historic Funding Increases for Homeless Children and Youth in FY18 Bill
March 20, 2018 – Record Number of US Reps sign EHCY/RHYA Funding Letter
March 8, 2018 – Breaking News: Action Needed by March 14th to Support Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
February 12, 2018 – Federal Budget Update: FY2018 and FY2019
February 9, 2018 – Disaster Funding for Homeless Students in Budget Deal
December 22, 2017 – Programs that Provide Targeted Funding for Homeless Children and Youth
December 22, 2017 – Disaster Assistance for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
December 19, 2017 – House Appropriations bill includes $25 million in McKinney-Vento funding to help homeless children displaced due to disasters
May 24, 2017 – President’s FY2018 Budget Proposal and Homelessness
May 8, 2017 – Funding Wins in Final FY17 Budget, But FY2018 Uncertain
May 1, 2017 – FY2017 Budget Bill Includes Increased Funding for Homeless Programs
March 9, 2017 – Budget Cuts and Homeless Children and Youth
January 25, 2017 – ESSA Regulations on Hold, Congress Debates Budget
May 27, 2021 – Congressional Hearing Held on Reengaging Students Experiencing Homelessness and Students in Foster Care
November 14, 2019
- U.S. Senate Bipartisan Resolution Recognizes November 2019 as “National Homeless Children and Youth Awareness Month”
- U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was joined by eleven other U.S. Senators in sponsoring a bipartisan resolution recognizing November 2019 as “National Homeless Children and Youth Awareness Month.” It is the first resolution to recognize both child and youth homelessness, from infancy to young adulthood. The resolution includes information about the extent and impact of child and youth homelessness, and supports the efforts of businesses, organizations, educators, and volunteers to meet the needs of homeless children and youth.
August 10, 2018
- Career and Technical Education Bill Signed into Law
- On July 31, 2018, the President signed a new CTE law that contains multiple provisions to improve access and success for youth experiencing homelessness.
November 4, 2017
- Bipartisan Legislation for Education and Employment Introduced
- On November 3, Reps. Jim Renacci (R-OH), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH), and Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced the “Preparing Homeless Youth for Education and Employment Act,” bipartisan legislation to provide access to dropout prevention and college and career counseling services to homeless youth.
June 23, 2017
- House Passes Career and Technical Education Bill
- On June 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed “The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” HR 2353, which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
March 13, 2017
- Education Department Releases New ESSA Template
- On March 13, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a new template for states to use in developing their state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
March 9, 2017
- Senate Votes to Rescind ESSA Regulations
- The U.S. Senate voted today to rescind ESSA regulations related to accountability and state plans by a vote of 50-49 . The measure now will move to the President’s desk for signature. This action will not affect the ESSA amendments made to the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, which are in statute, and are in effect now.
March 8, 2017
- New Department of Education Guidance on the McKinney-Vento Act
- On Friday March 3, the U.S. Department of Education issued updated Non-Regulatory Guidance on the McKinney-Vento Act. The update consists of the addition of three questions: J-10 through J-12.
February 10, 2017
- ESSA Regulations Remain in Question, But McKinney-Vento Clarity Emerges
- The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act went into effect on October 1, 2016, yet the fate of subsequent regulations on state plans and accountability under Title I Part A remains in question. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on February 7 to prevent these regulations from taking effect. A Senate resolution is expected soon.
February 7, 2017
- Betsy DeVos Comments on the Needs of Students Experiencing Homelessness and in Foster Care
- Today, Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote.
February 7, 2017
- House Passes Resolution to Prevent Implementation of ESSA Accountability Regulations
- On February 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution (HR 57) introduced by Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN) that would prevent recently-issued regulations on state plans and accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from taking effect. If enacted, this resolution (adopted pursuant to the Congressional Review Act) also would prevent future administrations from promulgating similar rules. It is unclear when a similar resolution will be taken up in the Senate.
April 17, 2018
- Action Needed: Child Care for Families Experiencing Homelessness
- There is a critical opportunity to increase access to child care through the state planning process. States must submit their Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) State Plan for 2019-2021 by June 30, 2018. With a historic $2.37 billion increase in FY2018 CCDF funding – the largest increase in child care funding of all time – it is especially important to find out how you can weigh in to improve child care for families experiencing homelessness.
September 14, 2017
- The Child Care for Working Families Act (S.1806/H.R. 3773).
- Summary: The Child Care for Working Families Act is the Democratic proposal on child care and early learning. Under the legislation, no family under 150% of state median income would pay more than seven percent of their income on child care. The bill also supports universal access to preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year old.
- Current Status: The Child Care for Working Families Act was introduced on September 14, 2017. As of December 2017, it had 29 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate, and 108 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.
December 21, 2020 – FAFSA Fixes for Homeless and Foster Youth Included in Final Funding Bill
March 13, 2019
- Higher Education Legislation for Homeless and Foster Youth Introduced
- On March 13, 2019, bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced to remove barriers to higher education access and success caused by homelessness and foster care.
December 1, 2017
- Fixing the FAFSA for Homeless Youth: Congress Begins HEA Reauthorization with Testimony from a SHC Leader
- On November 27, the 115th Congress began the reauthorization process for the Higher Education Act (HEA) with a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The HELP Committee hearing featured testimony from Elaine Williams, a SchoolHouse Connection Young Leader and remarkable advocate for homeless youth in Richmond, VA. Learn about the hearing, the current status of HEA reauthorization, and the critical link between education, employment, and homelessness.
September 13, 2017
- Legislation Introduced to Help Homeless and Foster Youth in Higher Education
- On 9/12/2017, two bills were introduced in Congress to help homeless and foster youth transition successfully to higher education and receive the financial aid and other supports they need to complete their degrees.
April 22, 2017
- Proposed 2018-2019 FAFSA Would Help Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
- On April 17, the U.S. Department of Education published a draft of the 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for public comment. The draft FAFSA may be found here.
March 7, 2017
- New State Laws Empower Youth Experiencing Homelessness
- State legislatures across the country are passing laws that empower youth experiencing homelessness to access housing, health care, higher education, and vital documents. In our January 27 newsletter, we wrote about Wyoming’s HB 159, which allows unaccompanied minors experiencing homelessness to obtain their own birth certificates, consent for housing and services, get a job, buy a car, and sign up for college.
May 3, 2021 – Bipartisan Legislation to Help Homeless Children and Youth Reintroduced
April 21, 2021 – Take Action to Help Homeless Children and Youth – No Matter Where They Sleep.
November 10, 2020 – Addressing Child, Youth, and Family Homelessness: Priorities for the Biden-Harris Administration
April 4, 2019
- Bipartisan Legislation to Help Homeless Children and Youth Reintroduced
- On April 1, 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). This bipartisan legislation corrects long-standing flaws in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless assistance for children, youth, and families. 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.
July 24, 2018
- A Big Win: House Committee Passes the Homeless Children and Youth Act
- 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).
June 8, 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). 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.
October 13, 2017
- School-Housing Partnership Legislation Introduced
- On October 12, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation to incentivize housing authorities and school districts to work together to address and prevent family homelessness. The Affordable Housing for Educational Achievement Demonstration (AHEAD) Act (S. 1949) authorizes $150 million for a new demonstration program to be jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
June 6, 2017
- New Video Adds Urgency to HUD Homeless Assistance Reform
- A powerful new film from HEAR US premiered on June 6 at a Congressional briefing sponsored by the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Center on Housing & Child Welfare, and SchoolHouse Connection. Both the film and the Congressional briefing make a strong case for the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511/S. 611), bipartisan legislation that addresses long-standing flaws in federal homeless policy, and makes it easier for communities to help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.
March 27, 2017
- New Direction for Federal Homeless Policy: The Homeless Children and Youth Act
- Last week, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511/S. 611) was introduced in the U.S. Senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives. This important bipartisan legislation addresses two long-standing flaws in federal homeless policy: 1) arbitrary eligibility criteria that exclude some of the most vulnerable children, youth, and families from HUD Homeless Assistance; and 2) federal mandates that have forced communities to prioritize programs for certain populations and program models, regardless of local needs.
March 15, 2017
- Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Help Homeless Children, Youth, and Families
- On March 14, the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511/S. 611) was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. This bi-partisan legislation would make it easier for local communities to help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness, and help put an end to the cycle of homelessness.
October 24, 2018
- Newly Enacted Opioid Bill Could Help Homeless Children, Youth, and Families
- On Wednesday, October 24, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation, H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. This sweeping legislation contains many provisions that could help children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness who are impacted by the opioid crisis, as well as provisions to help all children and youth who experience trauma.
April 30, 2018
- Bipartisan Opioid Bill Includes Child, Youth, and Family Provisions
- On Tuesday, April 24, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously passed S. 2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. This comprehensive bipartisan bill includes more than 40 proposals from 38 different senators aimed at combating the opioid crisis. Among those proposals are efforts to address the impact of the opioid crisis on children, youth, and families.
- SchoolHouse Connection co-signed a letter along with The National Network for Youth, Family Promise, and First Focus on Children to U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge regarding support for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. This letter details actions on how to best support children, youth, and families in her new role. > Read the Letter
- SchoolHouse Connection recognizes the value of statewide assessments as a tool for parents, communities, schools, and systems of education to gain insights into how well students are being served, including factors that might impact achievement. We are also acutely aware that with many students struggling to access virtual classrooms and stay connected consistently, moving forward with traditional statewide end-of-year assessments could unintentionally punish the approximately 1.5 million students experiencing homelessness (now likely higher due to the economic crisis) across the country. In this short statement, we outline our concerns and provide recommendations for the US Department of Education, and state and local educational agencies. > Read SHC’s Statement
- SchoolHouse Connection strongly condemns January 6th’s violent insurrection and the white supremacy that underlies it. We are deeply concerned about the health of our democracy and the added layers of trauma for children and youth witnessing these events – especially children and youth of color, who are disproportionately suffering from the toll of the pandemic and economic crisis – many of whom are also missing the safety and stability of their schools during distance learning. The fate of our most marginalized children and youth is the fate of this nation. > Read SHC’s Statement
- We are sickened, saddened, and angered by the virulent racism in our nation. While this racism has been unveiled in horrific ways in recent days, we know it underlies profound historic and current inequities in education, early care, homelessness, and all aspects of our lives. > Overcoming Homelessness Means Fighting Racism
- On April 24, 2022, SchoolHouse Connection, along with Education Law Center, John Burton Advocates for Youth, The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, and The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) Youth Law Center, submitted final comments specific to homeless and foster youth provisions on the 2023-2024 FAFSA to the U.S. Department of Education urging them to implement the provisions as soon as possible. > Read SHC’s comments
- On November 30, 2021, SchoolHouse Connection submitted recommendations to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness’ (USICH) for the new Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. Our recommendations are based on our daily direct interaction with our network, as well as decades of experience witnessing the many ways that previous federal strategic plans have fallen short, or failed outright. It is our hope that in light of the persistent — and often generational — crisis of homelessness, the Biden-Harris Administration will pursue fresh perspectives and new ideas. > Read SHC’s comments
- Students experiencing homelessness are disciplined in schools at disproportionate rates in comparison to their housed peers, with disproportionalities further exacerbated by race, disability, and sexual identity/orientation. On July 23, 2021, SchoolHouse Connection submitted comments to the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, highlighting these inequities, and providing recommendations for positive school discipline practices. > Read SHC’s comments
- There is nothing ordinary about this Presidential transition. The seismic events of the coronavirus pandemic, the economic crisis, the toxic political divisions, and the long overdue awakening to systemic racism call for new thinking, and bold and decisive action to reflect current realities. This page documents our priorities for the Biden-Harris Administration for the first 100 days and beyond. > Read SHC’s Recommendations
- On November 9, 2020, we provided comments on the “Proposed Information Collection Activity; Child Care and Development Fund Plan for States/Territories for FFY 2022-24” to the Administration of Children and Families. > Read SHC’s Comments
- The “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity” rule implemented by HUD in 2012 recognized and sought to address the discrimination and housing challenges faced by transgender persons. On September 22, 2020, we submitted comments to HUD in opposition of the Trump Administration’s anti-transgender housing rule. > Read SHC’s Comments
- The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness recently requested input from stakeholders on revising the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. As one of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations on child, youth, and family homelessness, SchoolHouse Connection was invited to participate in the first stakeholder call, and also submitted formal written comments. We will continue to advocate for a strategic plan that confronts the realities of child, youth, and family homelessness, centers racial and ethnic equity, and recognizes the core role of early care and education. > Read SHC’s Comments
- SchoolHouse Connection (SHC) applauds the Department of Education’s decision to study how school districts and schools are using funding authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We urge the Department to include in its study how school districts and schools are using Title I Part A funds for students experiencing homelessness, as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). > Read SHC’s Comments
- On September 4, 2020, we submitted our comments to the National Academy of Medicine on the preliminary COVID-19 vaccine allocation framework from the nation academies. We recommend that the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (EHCY) be utilized as a mechanism to find homeless families and youth, and distribute the vaccine to them. > Read SHC’s Comments