Posts Tagged ‘HEARTH Act’

30th July
written by Catherine An

House Approves $2.2 Billion for McKinney-Vento, $75 Million for VASH

Last night, the House approved H.R. 5850, the fiscal year (FY) 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill. The bill includes a number of provisions to help people experiencing homelessness.

Although a proposed amendment to the bill would have eliminated funding for the HUD – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, the amendment was eventually withdrawn. As a result of YOUR help in making phone calls to your representatives, the final bill includes $75 million for HUD-VASH.

In addition to funding for HUD-VASH, the legislation includes:

  • $2.2 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (an 18 percent increase over FY 2010);
  • $17.080 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance renewals (a $740.8 million increase over FY 2010), including:
  • $85 million for 10,000 housing vouchers for the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration;
  • $350 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program (a $15 million increase over FY 2010);
  • $4.829 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund (a $54 million increase over FY 2010); and
  • $2.5 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund (no change from FY 2010).

The House approved $2.2 billion in funding for McKinney-Vento programs due to all of YOUR hard work. Although we need $2.4 billion to fully implement the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, we need to let our representatives know how appreciative we are to them for providing an 18 percent increase for McKinney-Vento programs.

Check the House Appropriations Committee website for more information on H.R. 5850.

Again – none of this could’ve happened without YOU. Our federal representatives need to hear what you think so they can do their job of representing our interests and priorities. So thanks for all your hard work!

Up next? The Senate – stay tuned!

15th July
written by naehblog

So it’s all over.

The 2010 National Conference on Ending Homelessness is behind us.

And – even from a non-expert standpoint – I have to say that it was a pretty incredible experience. From the industry luminaries that graced the stage at plenary sessions to the incredible workshop speakers to the [really outstanding] hotel staff, I really felt that the last three days were both educational and inspiring.

Alliance staff are all encouraged to attend [and staff] workshops, so I had the opportunity to learn about a lot of things that I don’t encounter in my communication-and-social-media-days in the office. I learned about the role rapid re-housing can play in the life of domestic violence survivors, I learned about the implications of the HEARTH Act in ending family homelessness, I learned how much interest there was in communications and social media, and I learned a lot – a ton! – about the federal plan to end homelessness and HPRP.

I learned a lot about people! Our field is full of such wonderfully different, quirky, and committed practitioners and advocates! Walking around with an Alliance nametag gave me an avenue to introduce myself to folks – and every time I turned around I had the opportunity to meet direct service providers, advocates, government employees, and real, true experts in the field. And every so often (I think I mentioned this before), I got a chance to meet Twitter friends and Facebook buds that I had chatted with online but not in life – and that was an exciting if surreal experience.

But most of all – cue the violins – I got to learn about ending homelessness. It’s a tough concept to wrap my mind around – ending homelessness. Even as a dedicated employee of the Alliance, it can still be hard for me to really visualize a time without any individuals or families in shelter or on the streets.

The conference righted all of that. After hearing from Nan, from Secretary Shaun Donovan, from Barbara Poppe, from Secretary Eric Shinseki, from Delegate Charniele Herring – and all the experts in workshops in between – over and over and over again, the message rang through.

Not only is ending homelessness possible – we’re doing it right now. With the reform of health care, with the implementation of HPRP, with the provisions in the HEARTH Act, with the outlines in the federal plan. With an investment in housing, with an eye towards infrastructure, with best practices and good policy, and with the hard work and dedication of every single person who attended this year’s conference, we are ending homelessness as we speak (or rather, I type).

It’s a message that lifted my spirits and reminded me of what our common mission is, what brings us together year after year.

I hope it did for you too.

Thanks to everyone for attending – please don’t hesitate to pass along your thoughts, critiques, and notes here or on Twitter or on our Facebook page, where you can find pictures from the conference!

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1st July
written by naehblog

This morning, the House Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its fiscal year (FY) 2011 spending bill. (This is the subcommittee – along with its Senate counterpart – that governs the HUD budget.)

Although all of the details of the bill are not yet available, the legislation includes:

Given the current budget climate and the emphasis on keeping the deficit down, we are delighted that the House has provided increased resources for each of these programs. In fact, if passed by Congress, this would be the largest one-year increase for the McKinney programs in 15 years.

However, it will require $2.4 billion to fully implement the HEARTH Act.

So we need you to get back to those phones and do YOUR part to ensure that you’re protecting the local programs that help our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.

  • Contact your Representative and ask him/her to work throughout the rest of the appropriations process to provide additional funding for McKinney programs. (And if they happen to be a House T-HUD member, thank them for their work on the spending bill!)
  • Call the housing staffers in your Senators’ office and ask them to work with Senate T-HUD members to provide the necessary $2.4 billion for McKinney programs in the Senate FY 2011 bill.
  • Let us know what happened.Report all responses to Amanda Krusemark and let her know if you want to stay involved with Alliance advocacy efforts.

We know you’ve been working hard to work on this McKinney campaign – and we couldn’t make progress without you. And while advocacy can be sometimes-unglamorous work, we know that YOU’RE making the difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness in our local communities and nationwide.

For additional details on the House’s HUD appropriations bill, visit our website.

And thanks for all your hard work!

19th May
written by naehblog

How many people are homeless due to the recession? We’re not sure yet. Homelessness is what we call a “lagging indicator” of a poor economy, so we still have yet to see the full impact of the economic recession on homelessness.

But that doesn’t mean the recession hasn’t had – or won’t have – an impact on homelessness. Today, the Homeless Research Institute’s launches our Economy Bytes series, in which we investigate economic indicators that are associated with homelessness. The first in this series investigates doubled-up situations.

Our research shows that 5 percent more people lived in doubled up situations in 2008 than in 2005; in particular, we’ve seen a growing share of doubled up families.

Wait, so what’s doubled up? Doubling up means that an individual or family lives with extended family, friends, and other non-relatives due to economic hardship. In this case, we define economic hardship as earning no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty level.

Not all doubled up people or families will become homeless but for many, it’s a precursor. Of those people who weren’t homeless before staying at a shelter, 46 percent spent the previous night at the home of a friend or family member, according to the 2008 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR).

But why do people double up? In short, people double up because they can’t afford housing. They have had to choose between basic necessities like food, health care, clothing and housing, and people who are doubled up have had to sacrifice their own housing.

The following chart shows the relationship between poverty and people in doubled up situations.

What about services for doubled up people and families?

The growing number of people in doubled up situations likely means there is a growing demand for services.

In 2009, the Homeless Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act expanded the definition of homelessness to include some doubled up families, making them eligible for homeless assistance services, but in order to effectively serve this population, we need more information about doubled up people and families.

Want to know more? The full brief is available here.

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22nd September
written by naehblog

We’re heard though the grapevine that some people are a little confused – and a little worried – by the new Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act, a.k.a. the HEARTH Act. There seem to be some question about what, exactly, this legislation will do and how it will affect local direct service providers.

Below, our senior policy analyst Norm Suchar has some answers. Take it away, Norm!

One of the major homelessness policy debates over the past 2 decades has been about updating the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) homeless assistance programs. After years of debates and several false starts, Congress passed a bill called the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act, a.k.a. the HEARTH Act. It was signed by President Obama on May 20, 2009.

The HEARTH Act makes mostly evolutionary changes to homeless assistance, although some of the changes are more substantial. The changes go into effect in about two years. Here are some of the highlights.

1. The HEARTH Act focuses much more on preventing homelessness. Currently federal homeless assistance programs don’t fund many prevention programs. Because of the HEARTH Act, there will be a lot more homelessness prevention, particularly for helping people when they get behind on the rent or when they have a dispute with a landlord.

2. There is a greater focus on helping families with children move into their own housing. Families are typically homeless for several weeks or several months, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With some help paying for first and last month’s rent, deposits, and moving costs, most families could exit homelessness much quicker. The HEARTH Act puts more resources into this kind of assistance.

3. There will continue to be a focus on Permanent Supportive Housing for people with disabilities. Over the past several years, HUD has encouraged communities to spend more on Permanent Supportive Housing, which consists of a basic apartment with supportive services, like case management, mental health care, and substance abuse services. This effort has been very successful, significantly reducing the number of people with disabilities who experience long-term or chronic homelessness. The HEARTH Act continues this focus and also changes some of the rules to make it easier to develop Permanent Supportive Housing.

31st July
written by naehblog

I’m sitting here, listening to what is NO DOUBT a standing ovation given to Sen. Jack Reed who just gave an address to at the final plenary session at the Conference.

The senator – a longtime homeless advocate and champion of highly successful legislation to prevent and end homelessness – touched upon a number of different topics, including the ramifications of the HEARTH Act and the inexcusable tragedy of veteran homelessness.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said the senator.

He’s already started, it seems. Yesterday, the senator announced, he introduced the Zero Tolerance for Homeless Veterans – in an effort to do just that: end veteran homelessness.

Whew! Guess you never know what’ll happen!

15th July
written by naehblog

So last week I did something new – the release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), so I thought this week I’d do something old: the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistant Act.


The McKinney-Vento Act was authored by Stewart Brett McKinney – a Republican Congressman from Connecticut – and Bruce Frank Vento – a Democratic-Farm-Labor Congressman from Minnesota, both of whom were known to their peers as advocates of those less fortunate, and dedicated to finding supportive programs and solutions to homelessness. The bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan, who – ironically – is often accused of contributing to modern-day homelessness by deinstitutionalizing mental health facilities in the 1980s.


The McKinney-Vento Act was a comprehensive, multi-faceted bill that:

  • Established the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a group of representatives from 15 federal agencies charged to design a comprehensive approach to reduce, prevent, and end homelessness in the country, and
  • Created 20 assistance programs administered by nine federal agencies providing a spectrum of services to homeless people, including supportive housing, emergency shelter, emergency food and shelter grants, rental assistance, job training and education, etc.

The original text of the bill firmly establishes that homelessness is a growing social problem that can be addressed by the federal assistance. I found it particularly interesting that they wrote, “the problem of homelessness has become more severe and, in the absence of more effective efforts, is expected to become dramatically worse, endangering the lives and safety of the homeless; the causes of homelessness are many and complex, and homeless individuals have diverse needs; there is no single, simple solution to the problem of homelessness because of the different subpopulations of the homeless, the different causes of and reasons for homelessness, and the different needs of homeless individuals…”.

(It’s as true today as it was then. Maybe even more so.)


Since 1987, when the Act was enacted, it has been amended four times: 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994. Most of the amendments have been cosmetic but in 1990, there were more substantial attempts to change the programs.

In 1990, Congress did the following (among other things):

  • Expanded the number of activities eligible for McKinney funding.
  • Expanded the Homeless Children and Youth program, and specified the obligations of state and local communities to ensure that homeless youth and children have access to public education.
  • Created new programs, including the Shelter Plus Care Program and a health care for the homeless program.
  • Renamed the Community Mental Health Services program to Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness program (PATH).


In May 2009, Congress passed the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which reauthorized the McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs. It was the first significant reauthorization in nearly 20 years, both making transformative changes to the homeless assistance programs under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as decisively shifting the focus of these programs from managing homelessness to preventing and ending homelessness.

Watch Steve Berg, Vice President of the Alliance, discuss the history and transformation of the McKinney-Vento programs. Note: the sound is a little fuzzy – we apologize in advance! (You can also watch this on our YouTube channel).

Hope this helps!