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Feinstein Bill Devotes Federal Resources to Fight Homelessness

League-supported bi-partisan bill would provide grants to local governments for comprehensive, wraparound services to homeless individuals and families

April 1, 2019
U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) have introduced the Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act, a bill to increase federal resources to battle homelessness.
 
Specifically, the bill authorizes $750 million in grants annually for the next five years for local governments to combat homelessness.

As a way to address the root causes of homelessness, this legislation for the first time would condition federal funds on a grant recipient’s ability to provide not only housing but also comprehensive services like mental health care, substance abuse treatment and job training. Grant recipients would be required to provide 25 percent of project funds and report on measures of success, including whether individuals remain housed.

“Homelessness has reached crisis levels in California and continues to grow nationwide. While our state is a model for the country in so many ways, homelessness is one area where we can and must do better,” said Senator Feinstein. “We know the root causes of homelessness vary and can include mental illness, drug addiction and poverty. That’s why our bill requires housing to be paired with services to address those root causes. Local governments, particularly those in California, are already taking action to combat homelessness; this bill will help them be even more proactive and effective in their efforts.”

“Addressing homelessness is a moral imperative and our approach should always be compassionate and holistic. Reducing homelessness also saves money. In order to break the cycle of homelessness that impacts so many people in Los Angeles and elsewhere, we have to combine housing with social services and programs,” said Congress Member Lieu. “Funding a more holistic approach helps improve the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable, and provides local governments with the resources to address the specific needs of their communities. I’m proud to partner with Senator Feinstein and this bipartisan, bicameral group of Senators and Members who care deeply about addressing homelessness.”

What the bill does:
  • Authorizes $750 million annually for five years to fund supportive housing models that provide comprehensive services and intensive case management.
  • Requires a 25 percent match for services and housing from non-federal funds.
  • Allows grants to be used for any combination of operations and capital building costs, as long as housing and services requirements are fulfilled.
  • Requires grantees to track outcomes and report on housing stability and improvements in health and wellbeing, including education of children.
Grant eligibility and requirements:
  • Grants may go to local governmental entities consisting of cities, counties, regional collaboratives and tribal governments.
  • Services must address issues including mental health; substance use disorders; disabling or other chronic health conditions; educational and job training/employment outcomes; and life skills classes.
  • Intensive case management must be provided with a ratio of no greater than one case manager to every 20 people served.
  • When serving families with children, services available must also include children’s behavioral and mental health services, early childhood education, regular and age-appropriate children’s programming and activities, child health and nutrition screening and education and parenting classes and support programs.
  • Services must also have in place protocol for staff training and best practices to identify and prevent child trafficking, abuse, and neglect.
Support for the bill

In addition to Sens. Feinstein and Murkowski, the Senate bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

In addition to Representatives Lieu and Stivers, the House bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Lou Correa (D-Calif.), Josh Harder (D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.).

“Homelessness is a national crisis reaching deeper and deeper into every American community — urban, suburban, rural and tribal — and it demands sustained federal investment to help end it. Our coalition of 24 Republican and Democratic mayors represent nearly 17 million residents; our partner CEOs represent companies that reach tens of millions of people in our communities. Together, we proudly support The Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act and we will fight for its passage into law,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the founding mayor of Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment, a national coalition of which the League of California Cities is a member.

“California’s city officials are facing the homelessness crisis in our communities every day and that’s why advocating for federal resources was a top priority for League Officers during their recent trip to Washington, D.C.,” said League Executive Director Carolyn Coleman. “Cities in California and across the country cannot tackle an issue of this magnitude alone, so we are pleased to see this bipartisan legislation that will help cities address this issue and will gladly urge support for its passage.”

The Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act is supported by the Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment, the mayors of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento as well as the Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, Corporation for Supportive Housing, National Alliance to End Homelessness and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.


 
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