Press Releases

Democrats on Housing Panel Call for Hearings on Ending Homelessness

Waters leads 25 Financial Services Dems in calling for Republican action

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Washington, DC, March 20, 2015 | comments

A coalition of nearly every Democratic Member of the House Financial Services Committee is calling on Republicans to make good on their pledge to address poverty by holding hearings on ending homelessness in America.

In a letter sent today to Chairman Jeb Hensarling (D-TX), 25 Committee Democrats requested the majority pay increased attention to the issue by hosting a series of hearings on the status of homelessness in our nation. Led by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Committee’s Ranking Member, the lawmakers requested that the hearings look into the progress of Opening Doors, a comprehensive strategy by the Obama Administration to effectively accomplish the goal of preventing and ending homelessness.

Opening Doors is an unprecedented effort to improve and better align homeless assistance services for vulnerable citizens by forming a joint coalition of federal agencies, state and local partners, and public and private sector entities. Opening Doors aims to put the country on a path to eradicating homelessness for veterans by 2015; chronic homelessness by 2017; and children, family, and youth homelessness by 2020.

In the letter, Committee Democrats acknowledge that while the initiative has made significant progress, more work needs to be done to ensure every American has access to housing that is safe, decent, permanent and affordable.

“With the launch of Opening Doors in 2010, we have made significant progress towards our goals to end and prevent homelessness,” the letter reads. “But our work is far from over. That is why we were so pleased to hear that you are committing this Congress to exploring ways to help lift Americans from lives of poverty. What better way than to start with those so impoverished that they have no ability to acquire and maintain safe, decent, permanent, and affordable housing. To that end, the Committee should take a careful look at the progress thus far toward reaching these ambitious goals, including and especially the immediate goal of ending Veterans homelessness by the end of this calendar year.”

The lawmakers cite previous bipartisan support for homelessness initiatives, including the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, and offered to collaborate with the majority to ensure a clear understanding of the progress, tools and best practices communities are using to combat this epidemic – and to gain a better understanding of what success looks like.

The full text of the letter is below.


The Honorable Jeb Hensarling
Chairman
Financial Services Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Chairman Hensarling,

We are writing to request that the Financial Services Committee commit to holding a series of hearings on the status of ending homelessness in America. The Administration’s plan, Opening Doors, is the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. Opening Doors serves as a roadmap for joint action by a coalition of federal agencies along with local and state partners in the public and private sectors. The plan puts our country on a path to end Veterans homeless by 2015; to end chronic homelessness by 2017; and to end homelessness among children, families, and youth by 2020.

With the launch of Opening Doors in 2010, we have made significant progress towards our goals to end and prevent homelessness. According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), overall homelessness has decreased by 10 percent, including a 25 percent reduction in unsheltered homelessness. Family homelessness has decreased by 15 percent, chronic homelessness is down 21 percent, and Veterans homelessness is down 33 percent. This progress is in large part due to bipartisan efforts to support critical funding for homeless assistance programs, including the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program as well as investments in major rental assistance programs needed to end homelessness, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) programs.

But our work is far from over. That is why we were so pleased to hear that you are committing this Congress to exploring ways to help lift Americans from lives of poverty. What better way than to start with those so impoverished that they have no ability to acquire and maintain safe, decent, permanent, and affordable housing. To that end, the Committee should take a careful look at the progress thus far toward reaching these ambitious goals, including and especially the immediate goal of ending Veterans homelessness by the end of this calendar year. Two cities so far have announced that they have effectively ended Veterans homelessness, with several others pledging to do so by the end of 2015. The Committee should closely examine what tools and best practices communities are utilizing to end homelessness, as well as what more is needed to achieve success. We also must fully understand exactly what it means to end homelessness.

We welcome the opportunity to collaborate and fully examine this issue.

Sincerely,

Maxine Waters (CA)
Carolyn B. Maloney (NY)
Brad Sherman (CA)
Gregory W. Meeks (NY)
Michael E. Capuano (MA)
Rubén Hinojosa (TX)
William Lacy Clay (MO)
Stephen Lynch (MA)
David Scott (GA)
Al Green (TX)
Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
Gwen Moore (WI)
Keith Ellison (MN)
Ed Perlmutter (CO)
James Himes (CT)
John C. Carney (DE)
Terri Sewell (AL)
Bill Foster (IL)
Daniel T. Kildee (MI)
Patrick Murphy (FL)
John K. Delaney (MD)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)
Joyce Beatty (OH)
Denny Heck (WA)
Juan Vargas (CA)

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Tags: HUD



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