Ending Homelessness Act (H.R. 4496)

U.S. House bill: H.R. 4496, introduced by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) — Ending Homelessness Act

Committees:

Committees on Financial Services and Judiciary

Status:

The bill has not yet been formally considered. However, largely the same legislation was successfully marked up by the Financial Services Committee in the previous Congress.

Cosponsors:

71 (see all cosponsors)

 

 

Impact

The Ending Homelessness Act would end homelessness and significantly reduce poverty in America by transforming the Housing Choice Voucher program into a federal entitlement so that every household who qualifies for assistance would receive it.

Since 2016, homelessness has increased by more than 5%.  More than 580,000 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2020.  Increases in homelessness among some of the most fragile populations have been especially dramatic: for the first time since HUD began conducting a point in-time count in 2005, unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness now outnumber those who were sheltered, with the key driver being persons with chronic patterns of homelessness.  The pandemic has only made this worse, as millions of families across the country lost their livelihoods.  Families of color have been particularly hard hit and continue to experience disproportionate rates of housing instability and homelessness.

When it comes to housing, America lacks the equivalent of the food stamps program, which, as a federal entitlement, kicks in as an automatic economic stabilizer to help American families afford food when they experience a sudden, drastic loss of income. By comparison, if someone is experiencing homelessness or housing instability, they essentially have to roll the dice and hope that they are lucky enough to get help; today, 4 out of 5 households who qualify for a Housing Choice Voucher are turned away.

The Ending Homelessness Act of 2021 provides a comprehensive plan to ensure that every person
experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in America has an affordable place to call home. The bill would:
expand and transform the Housing Choice Voucher program into a federal entitlement that would be phased in over eight years;
prohibit landlords from discriminating against renters based on source of income and veteran status;
appropriate $10 billion in funding over 5 years for the Housing Trust Fund and McKinney Vento grants to fund the creation of permanent affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness;
provide funding for outreach and case management to connect persons experiencing homelessness to needed services, as well as for technical assistance to help states and local jurisdictions better align their healthcare and housing strategies;
permanently authorize the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which authorizes the main
homeless assistance grant programs under HUD’s jurisdiction; and,
permanently authorize the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which serves a critical role in coordinating the overall federal strategy to end homelessness.

All in all, this bill is projected to fund the creation of 410,000 new units of housing for people experiencing homelessness and effectively end widespread homelessness and housing instability. Columbia University researchers also project that this bill would lift 9 million people out of poverty, reduce child poverty by over a third, and decrease racial disparities in poverty rates among Black and White households.

Summary

The Ending Homelessness Act would end homelessness and significantly reduce poverty in America by transforming the Housing Choice Voucher program into a federal entitlement so that every household who qualifies for assistance would receive it.

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