What Congress Can Do This Year: Part III, Active Threats

The 116th Congress has been in session for just over five months, and there are already multiple signs of progress on issues related to homelessness.

There’s a reason Congress is motivated: the increases in unsheltered homelessness are startling. Many communities that are not normally thought of as having difficult housing markets are now struggling with rising rents. Combined with strong public opinion that the federal government needs to address these problems, Members of Congress from both parties are finally talking about affordable housing and homelessness.

In this three-part series, Alliance Vice President for Programs and Policy Steve Berg will analyze updates on homelessness and housing funding, active legislation to address homelessness, and current threats to our efforts to end homelessness.  This is the third post in the series.

Part 3: Active Threats

While there is positive progress occurring on the legislative front to fund programs that would end homelessness, certain modifications to current HUD provisions could put more people into homelessness. To prevent this, let’s take a look into current policy proposals, and examine why they may be a threat to increasing homelessness.

There are currently two bills in the House that aim to prevent the implementation of dangerous proposed changes to HUD regulations: one regarding immigrants, and another regarding transgender people.

  • Mixed-Status Families – HUD has issued a proposed rule barring undocumented immigrants from living in housing subsidized by HUD programs, even if the undocumented family member is paying full market rent for their share. The Alliance believes that this policy would make more people homeless, and supports H.R. 2763, barring HUD from implementing this rule.
  • Transgender people in shelters – The Administration is considering issuing a rule that would allow federally funded shelter providers to ban transgender people on religious grounds. The text of the proposed rule has not been made public, but from descriptions available, it would undo HUD’s carefully crafted guidance on this topic, and create more unsheltered homelessness among an extremely vulnerable group. Legislatively, the Alliance supports H.R. 3018 and Section 237 of the T-HUD appropriations bill, which would require no discrimination against transgender people.

The Alliance believes that these proposed changes would unnecessarily make people homelessness. When there are already so many barriers to access shelters and housing, HUD should not impose any tighter restrictions that would not permit those needing shelter or housing to receive it.

The Alliance remains vigilant to these and other threats to the hard work taking place around the country to end homelessness. On behalf of the staff of the Alliance, we thank everyone taking action to advocate on behalf of this work, and remind you to please sign up for the Alliance’s advocacy alerts, so that you can be a part of this important work.