Friday, June 27, 2008

Bringing America Home


This national, broad-based initiative is dedicated to the goal of ending homelessness. The Campaign is founded on the principles and action of public education, grassroots organizing and support for progressive policies and legislation. It is founded on the principles that people need affordable housing, livable incomes, health care, education, and protection of their civil rights.

The Bringing America Home Act (H.R. 4347) was introduced in the 109th Congress by Rep. Julia Carson (D-IN). This comprehensive bill is designed to end homelessness in the United States and includes housing, health, economic and civil rights components. The proposed legislation represents the most comprehensive initiative to date to address modern homelessness and is based on research, data, and the experience of front line providers and advocates. Click here to download the Section-by-Section analysis of the legislation in .pdf format.

Housing Security Provisions Include:

  • Establishing a National goal of ending homelessness by fulfilling the human need of shelter;
  • A National Housing Trust Fund;
  • 1,500,000 Section 8 vouchers for low-income families over ten years;
  • Increased authorization levels of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Veterans' Administration (VA) Housing Programs;
  • Authorization of permanent housing as an eligible use of surplus federal property under Title V of HUD McKinney-Vento;
  • Authorization of a Mutual Housing demonstration program to provide housing cooperatives;
  • A requirement that use of any federal dollars used for demolition would require a replacement resulting in no net loss of units;
  • Establishment in the Treasury of an Emergency Rent Relief Fund directing the Secretary of HUD to provide grants for emergency rent relief payments to landlords on behalf of tenants facing eviction;
  • Reauthorization of HUD McKinney-Vento programs for a five-year period;
  • Permanent authorization of the financing of renewals for permanent housing projects initiated through HUD McKinney-Vento from the Housing Certificate Fund; and
  • Requirements that HUD Continuums of Care coordinate and collaborate with local school district homeless liaisons and consider the school stability of children when shelter placements are made.

Economic Security Provisions Include:

  • A Sense of Congress supporting a Universal Living Wage and livable incomes;
  • Temporary Worker Fairness and Protection, which will enact federal legislation giving temporary workers the same protections as those afforded permanent workers;
  • Establishment of a 'Homebuild' Program for people experiencing homelessness to assist those who have experienced significant barriers to employment through training and apprenticeship programs;
  • Requirement that the Social Security Administration to collect data, engage in outreach and expedite application processing of people experiencing homelessness;
  • Repeal of the statute that allows homeless people to receive SSI for only 6 out of every 9 months they reside in public emergency shelter;
  • Increased asset limit for SSI to $3,000 for an individual and $4,500 for a couple, and provides presumptive eligibility for people experiencing homelessness; and
  • Greater access to Workforce Investment Act (WIA) services for people experiencing homelessness.

Health Care Provisions include:

  • A Sense of Congress resolving to enact legislation to guarantee that every person in the United States has access to comprehensive, quality, and affordable health care;
  • Strengthening of mainstream addiction and mental health services programs including the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant programs. The bill prioritizes services for people experiencing homelessness, averts patient discharge into homelessness, improves planning and reporting requirements, and establishes a Federal plan on addiction, mental illness, and homelessness;
  • Reauthorization and strengthening of the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) and Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals (GBHI) programs. These targeted programs currently provide essential mental health, addiction, and other services to people experiencing homelessness, but are not able to meet the growing need. The Health Title expands the services provided by these programs and the agencies involved in providing these services. It would also increase the authorization levels of these programs to $100,000,000 for PATH and $100,000,000 for GBHI; and
  • Strengthening of services provided by the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act (RWCA) to people experiencing homelessness by prioritizing services for people experiencing homelessness, expanding the scope of services provided, and preventing patient discharge into homelessness. It also establishes a Federal plan on HIV/AIDS and homelessness to ensure that homeless persons have access to RWCA programs and receive care appropriate to their unique needs and life circumstances once in these programs.

Civil Rights Provisions Include:

  • A requirement under the selection criteria of HUD McKinney-Vento that communities receiving homeless assistance dollars would certify they are not criminalizing homelessness through laws and ordinances;
  • A Sense of Congress that cities receiving CDBG and HOME funds shall not pass ordinances or fund projects that have a disparate impact on homeless people or that punish homeless persons for carrying out life-sustaining practices in public spaces when no alternative public spaces are available; or relating to curfews or runaways and that result in homeless youths being adjudicated delinquent.
  • A requirement that cities receiving CDBG, and HOME funds shall not pass zoning ordinances / make zoning decisions that have the effect of preventing the siting of facilities designed to serve people in homeless situations or low-income people.
  • A requirement that USPS shall provide no-fee PO boxes, subject to availability, to homeless persons within the zip code area of the location to which they regularly return.
SUPPORT THE BRINGING AMERICA HOME ACT: Sign a petition supporting the Bringing America Home Act, or have your organization endorse the Bringing America Home Campaign. Organizer's Toolkit

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