Late last week, a bipartisan group of House legislators introduced a bill that would supply $2 billion to states for help in preventing youth or family homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our community-based organizations will be able to better serve the needs of youth and families experiencing homelessness with the flexible funding included in the Emergency Family Stabilization Act,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). “As we work to restore and rebuild our communities, this legislation will help to stabilize youth and families during the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent entrenched adult homelessness.”
The legislation pairs up nearly identically with a Senate bill introduced in June, though the Senate version included only $800 million. Both give a wide berth to states in how they use the money, but prioritize certain activities:
- Health and safety needs (personal protective equipment, buying food, mental health services)
- Housing assistance (eviction prevention, utility bills, motel stays)
- Transportation costs
- Child care
- Education, training and employment-related needs
- Help for pregnant women and children birth to age 5
- Staffing for outreach, case management, trafficking prevention and housing navigation
- Helping people access their stimulus payments, unemployment compensation and other benefits
- Targeted services for unaccompanied homeless youth and young families
- Positive youth development services
Capitol Hill remains locked in a stalemate of sorts on passing another stimulus package to aid states and citizens as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc and the economy remains in a precarious position. Congressional leaders on child welfare and homelessness have produced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to put both of those sectors in decent position to be included if a stimulus bill does gain traction.
About 30% of people are experiencing homelessness with their families, according to a recent federal study. And about 35,000 people younger than 25 were experiencing homelessness, 6% of the total homeless population.