In advance of a Committee hearing on the 50th anniversary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services, joined by Committee colleagues Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and Rep. Al Green (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, for a visit to N Street Village, a homeless provider based in Washington, D.C., minutes from Capitol Hill, to highlight the critical need for increased funding for housing and homeless assistance programs.
During the tour, Members had the opportunity to witness first-hand the benefits of federal investment in a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. Studies have proven that it is more cost-effective to proactively house and care for chronically homeless persons.
“I am grateful to the Members of the Committee who joined me on this tour today to gain valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities to ending homelessness. As it stands today, we’re in the midst of a housing affordability crisis that has forced many of our neighbors onto the streets of our communities, and more robust federal re-investment is an important part of addressing this very critical issue,” said Ranking Member Waters. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of HUD, I believe it is so very important that Members of this Committee hear directly from service providers, homeless and formerly homeless persons on the frontlines of this epidemic so that in turn, they will work with me to ensure that we leverage every tool possible to support HUD’s work and truly end homelessness in our nation.”
According to the most recent national point-in-time count, there were close to 600,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given day of January 2014, including almost 100,000 chronically homeless individuals and families, almost 50,000 homeless veterans, and about 45,000 unaccompanied homeless children and youth. Like many homeless service providers, the HUD funding that N Street Village receives provides essential housing and supportive services that enable vulnerable individuals to achieve stability while also make meaningful progress toward building income, finding employment, addressing mental and physical health issues, and overcoming addiction challenges.
Dramatic cuts to HUD funding has exacerbated the rental housing crisis in major cities and many rural communities across the country, driving up unprecedented demand for affordable housing. As Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, Congresswoman Waters introduced legislation earlier this year to establish and strengthen vibrant communities by overhauling the way the government supports public housing, which currently suffers from an over $26 billion dollar backlog of capital needs. Waters has also worked to shine a bright light on the issue of homelessness, recently hosting a Capitol Hill briefing with activist, actor and philanthropist Richard Gere along with housing experts on the state of homelessness in America.