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House Committee Approves Homeless Housing Bill

On July 31, the House Financial Services Committee passed, by voice vote, the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (H.R. 840). The Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee held a hearing on reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77) on October 4 (see The Source, 10/5/07).

Sponsored by the late Rep. Julia Carson (D-IN), the bill would authorize $2.2 billion in FY2010 for housing assistance and emergency shelter programs under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and “such sums as may be necessary” for FY2010-2013. The measure also would expand the definition of “homeless” individuals in determining who would be eligible for assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The measure would provide relocation assistance and victim services for “individuals who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and are in danger of becoming homeless because of the violence or abuse.” It would require the establishment of community homeless assistance planning boards in geographic areas around the country that would “lead a collaborative planning process to design, execute, and evaluate programs, policies, and practices to prevent and end homelessness.” In conducting its review of programs and policies, the bill directs the boards to give priority to the review of, among other provisions, “policies and practices penalizing victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and placing them at risk of becoming homeless.”

During consideration of H.R. 840, the committee adopted, also by voice vote, a substitute amendment by Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) to narrow the original bill’s definition of “homeless” individuals to cover individuals fleeing domestic violence, people who are temporarily institutionalized and lack housing when they leave such care, those about to lose their home and do not have resources to find another home, individuals who face eviction within 14 days, and individuals living in a motel or with another family and lack the resources to stay for more than 14 days or have to leave within 14 days.

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