Thursday, April 9, 2009

McKinney-Vento Reauthorization Introduced in House and Senate

Last Thursday, April 2, the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act was reintroduced in both the House and Senate. The legislation would reauthorize the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs. The Senate bill, S. 808, was introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Kit Bond (R-MO), and 11 other Senators. The House bill, H.R. 1877, was introduced by Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Judy Biggert (R-IL), and 5 other House Members. The House and Senate bills are nearly identical to a version that passed the House last year, H.R. 7221. The legislation:

Allows up to 20 percent of funds to be used to prevent homelessness or rapidly re-house people who become homeless through the new "Emergency Solutions Grants" (formerly Emergency Shelter Grants);
Consolidates the Supportive Housing Program, Shelter Plus Care, and the Moderate Rehabilitation/Single Room Occupancy Program into a single Continuum of Care program;
Increases the emphasis on performance by measuring applicants' progress at reducing homelessness and providing incentives for proven solutions;
Requires that HUD provide incentives for rapid re-housing programs for homeless families;
Continues HUD's existing initiative to house people who experience chronic homelessness and adds families with children to the initiative;
Designates 30 percent of total funds for new permanent housing for families and individuals with a disability;
Simplifies the requirement for matching funds;
Modestly expands the definition of homelessness;
Allows grantees to use up to an additional 10 percent of competitive funds to serve families defined as homeless under the Department of Education (but not HUD);
Creates the Rural Housing Stability Assistance Program, which would grant rural communities greater flexibility in utilizing Homeless Assistance Grants and allow them to use more funding for capacity building; and
Authorizes $2.2 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2010, and such sums as necessary for FY2011.

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