On June 6, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a hearing, "Legislative Review of H.R. 1511, the "Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2017," introduced by Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Representative David Loebsack (D-IA). This legislation would amend the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and broaden HUD’s definition of homelessness to better serve communities, families, and children.
Witnesses at the hearing included Steve Berg, Vice President, Programs and Policy, National Alliance to End Homelessness; Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection; Kat Lilley, Deputy Executive Director, Family Promise of Colorado Springs; and Millie Rounsville, Chief Executive Officer, Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency.
Subcommittee Chairman Sean Duffy (R-WI) opened his testimony noting the recent strides made by the Subcommittee in addressing the nation’s homelessness and housing crisis, citing the hearing on the state of homelessness in America held May 17. He expressed his support of H.R. 1511, suggesting that the bill would aid in more accurate calculation of the homelessness rate in rural areas.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) acknowledged the importance of this issue, but noted his ongoing concerns about the lack of adequate funding for homelessness assistance and HUD-sponsored programs, which this bill does not mention. He was also concerned this bill would reprioritize for evaluation newly qualified individuals before individuals who already qualify for homelessness assistance. Representative Stivers and the witnesses assured the Subcommittee that this bill would not prioritize newly qualified individuals.
Some witnesses had reservations about this legislation, while others championed the bill and support expanding the definition of homelessness. Berg noted there are already programs in place to assist impoverished families who do not fall under the current definition of homeless. Lilley disagreed, noting this expansion is entirely necessary for impoverished families and children.