Today’s guest post comes to us from Alliance VP of Programs and Policy Steve Berg.
A little over a week ago, CBS’ “60 Minutes” focused on children and families experiencing homelessness. The piece received a lot of attention in the week that followed – and rightly so. The piece explored the effect that the recession has had on financially vulnerable families and poverty among children. It specifically featured interviews with children experiencing homelessness and highlighted the problem of families who are forced to live in motels.
I wanted to pass along an update on one of the featured families, the Bravermans. Jacob Braverman, just 14, came home from school one day to find himself locked out of his house. His mom had lost her job, and the bank warned them they had 30 days to leave their home. But just five days later, the police made them vacate the property. Jacob, his mom, and their dog moved in with neighbors across the street. In the episode, Jacob talks about how this experience made him more shy and forced him to mature much more quickly than his peers. He was constantly concerned about the instability he faced and worried what would happen if the neighbors kicked his family out of their home.
Since the episode (filmed in mid-December), the Bravermans have moved into their own apartment in Altamonte Springs, FL. They were able to do so with the help of a Recovery Act program called the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). HPRP provides communities with resources to offer rental assistance and services to families and individuals so that they can stabilize in housing to end their homelessness – or even prevent homelessness it before it begins.
Unfortunately, the HPRP was designed as a short-term program and funding is starting to run out in many communities. But there is a replacement funding opportunity.
The HEARTH Act, passed by Congress in 2009, improved the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. Under the HEARTH Act, communities will be able to continue the great interventions that have helped thousands of families just like the Bravermans across the country.
But it only works if Congress adequately funds the Homeless Assistance Grants program in fiscal year 2011. You may haveread it here before; the appropriations process that’s continues to stymie Congress and the country holds funding levels for homeless programs in limbo too. In order to implement this portion of the HEARTH Act, an increase in funding is needed for the homeless assistance grants.