National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC): Homeless Advocacy Organizations Mark Bittersweet Anniversary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 18, 2007
12:35 PM

CONTACT: NLIHC 
Nicole Letourneau 202-662-1530 x227

 
Homeless Advocacy Organizations Mark Bittersweet Anniversary
 

WASHINGTON — JULY 18 — The 20th anniversary of passage of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is July 22. To celebrate this bittersweet anniversary, organizations that fight homelessness, including the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), will join together with Members of Congress at a press conference tomorrow on Capitol Hill to highlight the importance of a balanced reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act.

NLIHC is concerned about the housing circumstances of all low income people, but focuses most particularly on solving the housing problems of the lowest income people, including people who are homeless.

The July 19 press conference will be held at 9:30 a.m. in Room 402 of the Cannon House Office Building. Members of Congress and the organizations will stress that in order to truly end homelessness in America, Congress must complement the McKinney-Vento Act with substantially increased investments in safe, decent and affordable housing.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act authorizes the bulk of federal spending for shelter and services for people who are homeless. The anniversary presents an opportunity to recognize the significant strides made in addressing homelessness using McKinney funds. But the milestone is also cause for reflection.

“The McKinney-Vento Act has helped to ameliorate the suffering of countless homeless people, but it cannot and was never intended to prevent or end homelessness in the United States,” Sheila Crowley, president of NLIHC, said. “Observance of this anniversary should be used to spotlight the growth in homelessness in America in the last two decades as a consequence of decreasing federal investment in affordable housing.”

Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, will moderate the event during which all participants will receive bittersweet chocolate bars with labels declaring the “Bittersweet Anniversary.” Following the event, chocolate bars will be distributed to each congressional office to raise awareness about the McKinney-Vento Act and the continuing homeless crisis. The candy bar labels will include a list of 10 steps that Congress and the Administration could take now to help address homelessness.

The 10 steps are:

1. Assist currently homeless people by reauthorizing and doubling funds for HUD McKinney-Vento programs.
2. Create housing for low income households by enacting a National Housing Trust Fund.
3. Protect, preserve and expand existing federal housing programs that serve the lowest income people.
4. Appropriate funds for at least 5,000 Section 8 housing vouchers for homeless veterans through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program.
5. Expand access to addiction and mental health services for people experiencing homelessness through reauthorization of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
6. Increase homeless and low income persons’ access to healthcare by reauthorizing and expanding the Consolidated Health Centers program.
7. Increase homeless persons’ access to mainstream disability income, temporary assistance, and workforce investment services.
8. Provide homeless children and youth with increased services and support by reauthorizing the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program within the No Child Left Behind Act and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
9. Require the Administration to develop and publish a coordinated federal plan to end homelessness.
10. Require jurisdictions receiving federal housing funds to protect the civil rights of homeless persons.

Organizations sponsoring the anniversary press conference and activities are the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Family Promise, Mercy Housing, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Center on Family Homelessness, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness, NLIHC, and National Network for Youth.

NLIHC’s sole mission is to end the affordable housing crisis in America. NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone.

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National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)
727 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005
202/662-1530; Fax 202/393-1973; info@nlihc.org; www.nlihc.org

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