Federal News, Homelessness, Supportive Housing

Capitol Hill Meetings Remind Congress Urgency of Addressing Homelessness

 

Connecticut's 25 attendees to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) Conference in Washington met July 14-15 with housing staff for both of Connecticut's Senators and all five Representatives - conveying the importance of federal investment in ending homelessness.

McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance/HPRP

Senators Lieberman and Senator Blumenthal have signed on to a 'Dear Colleague' letter circulated in the Senate, urging appropriators to maintain strong funding levels for the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Programs.  A modest increase in the funding level is necessary to implement reforms called for by the recent Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act.  In addition to streamlining and adding flexibility to the existing McKinney programs that fund supportive and transitional housing and shelters, the HEARTH Act adds the activities carried out the last couple years by the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).

HPRP funding in most communities has been running out, since it was temporary funding from the federal stimulus package. A recent HUD report notes that nationwide levels of homelessness have remained fairly stable during the recession - when one would expect a dramatic increase - largely because of large numbers of people helped by HPRP, 690,000 in the first year alone.
Several shelter providers in Connecticut report an upswing over the last couple months in the numbers of people seeking shelter.

This could be partly because of HPRP running out. It may also be from a lag in the recession's effects being felt.  In the time period between financial hardship, and then seeking shelter, a person or household will spend through savings, have unemployment benefits run out, sell belongings, and stay with friends or relatives, until there are no more options. Only time will tell, but it's possible we have a strong wave of homelessness starting that makes federal and state homelessness funds more critical than ever.

To Learn More:
Senate Sign-on letter on McKinney funding
NAEH McKinney Vento overview

Runaway and Homeless Youth Act

Awareness is growing among homelessness advocates and providers - and now policymakers - of the serious unaddressed needs of teens and young adults experiencing homelessness. Concern over this issue has grown in Connecticut in tandem with national efforts.  The National Alliance to End Homelessness has made youth homelessness a larger part of their work in recent months, sometimes in collaboration with the National Network for Youth.  NAEH has mounted an advocacy push to increase funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, which funds specialized housing, shelter, services, outreach and research.  Connecticut advocates discussed this funding in the Congressional meetings.

Monica Brase, an educator in Hartford public schools for many years, and current and former Classical Magnet School students Shevonne Canada, Christina Cantrell, Ashleigh Eubanks and Keiana Walker have conducted research and worked to raise awareness about many teenagers and young adults who have nowhere to live, which harms education, safety, physical and mental health, lifelong employment prospects, and likelihood of incarceration, addiction, pregnancy, prostitution and more.  They were able to share with Congressional staff an "on the ground" perspective on this serious problem.

To Learn More:
NAEH overview on Runaway and Homeless Youth Act funding:
The National Network for Youth (NN4Y)

Other priorities discussed in meetings with CT's congressional staff:

 

 
 

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