HUD Homeless Assistance Grants FY 2016
THE NEED FOR FUNDING AND REPORT LANGUAGE
$150,000,000 for Continuums of Care (CoC) as authorized by Title IV, Subtitle C, section 422 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act for homeless youth, including both minors and youth ages 18 to 24.
Report language directing the Office of Community Planning and Development to include a determination of imminent risk of homelessness as a requirement during the screening and interviewing process for at risk youth and refer them to the appropriate housing and counseling programs.
Summary of Program
The purpose of the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program is “to promote community wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts by nonprofit providers, and State and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness; promote access to and effective utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families; and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness.”55
To access HUD’s homeless assistance program, there are certain eligibility requirements that a homeless person must meet. For example, third party verification is required to certify the applicant’s homelessness, or imminent risk of homelessness, and a service worker must provide written documentation to support this claim. This form of verification is not required for access to emergency shelters, receiving street outreach services, or victim services.
Transitional housing, emergency shelter, and other emergency solutions programs are integral parts to prevent trafficking among the homeless youth population because a lack of housing increases vulnerability and strengthens a young person’s risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking. Currently, HUD has been deprioritizing housing and shelter programs with supportive services in exchange for prioritizing other housing interventions that are largely not youth-appropriate or accessible to homeless youth. Having a stable place to live coupled with services that reconnect youth with education while also teaching life skills is necessary for youth to be able to fully support themselves when they become adults. Programs with a youth appropriate focus are the most effective way to prevent the human trafficking of youth experiencing homelessness. Without these programs and their resources available to youth, they are more likely to fall victim to trafficking.
The staff of Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), Health Care for the Homeless Program (HCH), and Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) programs often encounters the invisible homeless youth and families. Some homeless youth may already be in trafficking situations and are too fearful to tell a service or an intake worker upon first meeting them. Persons other than intake workers may have already identified homeless and trafficked youth, such as RHYA street outreach workers, EHCY school personnel, or HCH program staff. Staff of these programs is tasked with building relationships with this highly vulnerable youth population and often know more about their day-to-day lives and history than would be disclosed to an intake worker. However, the stringent third party verification requirements, for eligibility to access homeless assistance, cause barriers to accessing such services, especially for runaway and homeless youth, who are vulnerable to human trafficking.
Within the Homeless Assistance Grants program, ATEST requests $150,000,000 be set aside for Continuums of Care (CoC) for homeless youth, inclusive of both minors and young adults as authorized under Title IV, Subtitle C, section 422 of the McKinney-Vento Act.
We also request a change to HUD policy that addresses the verification process, which determines eligibility to HUD homelessness assistance programs. Many homeless families and youth encounter people outside of the HUD homelessness assistance system who are able to verify that a person is either homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness. These programs should be able to verify their homelessness status and refer them to HUD. Adding this clarity to the regulations clarifying the implementation of the HEARTH Act would enable the vulnerable and often invisible homeless youth to access much needed housing and services to these youth who are at a very high risk of falling victim to human trafficking and currently find it difficult to access HUD homelessness assistance.
Proposed Report Language
Provided, that not less than $150,000,000 of the funds appropriated under this heading shall be made available for Continuums of Care (CoC) as authorized by Title IV, Subtitle C, section 422 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act for homeless youth, including both minors and youth ages 18 to 24.
The Committee directs the Office of Community Planning and Development to include a determination of imminent risk of homelessness as a requirement during the screening and interviewing process for at risk youth and refer them to the appropriate housing and counseling programs.