[Senate Hearing 107-950]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
S. Hrg. 107-950
REAUTHORIZATION OF THE
McKINNEY-VENTO HOMELESS ASSISTANCE ACT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION
BANKING,HOUSING,AND URBAN AFFAIRS
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
THE HOMELESSNESS PROBLEM IN AMERICA, THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF
THE McKINNEY-VENTO HOMELESS ASSISTANCE ACT HOUSING PROGRAMS, AND
PROPOSALS THAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS PART OF REAUTHORIZING
LEGISLATION TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF FEDERAL FUNDS IN
PREVENTING AND ENDING HOMELESSNESS
MARCH 6, 2002
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COMMITTEE ON BANKING, HOUSING, AND URBAN AFFAIRS
PAUL S. SARBANES, Maryland, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut PHIL GRAMM, Texas
TIM JOHNSON, South Dakota RICHARD C. SHELBY, Alabama
JACK REED, Rhode Island ROBERT F. BENNETT, Utah
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York WAYNE ALLARD, Colorado
EVAN BAYH, Indiana MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming
ZELL MILLER, Georgia CHUCK HAGEL, Nebraska
THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware RICK SANTORUM, Pennsylvania
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan JIM BUNNING, Kentucky
JON S. CORZINE, New Jersey MIKE CRAPO, Idaho
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
Steven B. Harris, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Wayne A. Abernathy, Republican Staff Director
Martin J. Gruenberg, Senior Counsel
Joseph R. Kolinski, Chief Clerk and Computer Systems Administrator
George E. Whittle, Editor
Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation
JACK REED, Rhode Island, Chairman
WAYNE ALLARD, Colorado, Ranking Member
THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware RICK SANTORUM, Pennsylvania
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
JON S. CORZINE, New Jersey RICHARD C. SHELBY, Alabama
CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York CHUCK HAGEL, Nebraska
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii
Kara Stein, Staff Director
Tewana Wilkerson, Republican Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2002
Opening statement of Senator Reed................................ 1
Opening statements, comments, or prepared statements of:
Senator Allard............................................... 8
Senator Dodd................................................. 19
Roy A. Bernardi, Assistant Secretary, Office of Community
Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.. 3
Response to written questions of Senator Reed................ 62
Stanley J. Czerwinski, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues,
Accounting Office, accompanied by Jason Bromberg, Senior Policy
Prepared statement........................................... 37
Response to written questions of Senator Reed................ 66
Susan M. Collins, a U.S. Senator from the State of Maine......... 17
Prepared statement........................................... 53
Nan P. Roman, President, National Alliance to End Homelessness
Washington, DC................................................. 20
Prepared statement........................................... 53
Response to written questions of Senator Reed................ 67
Mitchell Netburn, Executive Director, Los Angeles Homeless
Authority, Los Angeles, California............................. 22
Prepared statement........................................... 58
Response to written questions to Senator Reed................ 70
Mary Ann Gleason, Director, York County Initiative to End
Alfred, Maine.................................................. 24
Prepared statement........................................... 60
HOMELESS ASSISTANCE ACT
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2002
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs,
Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation,
The Subcommittee met at 2:30 p.m. in room SD-538 of the
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator Jack Reed (Chairman of
the Subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR JACK REED
Senator Reed. Let me call the hearing to order. My
colleague, Senator Allard, will be delayed for a few moments
but he asked us to go ahead. I want to welcome all of our
witnesses. I would like to make my opening statement in some
detail because of the importance of this hearing and when
Senator Allard returns, if he so chooses, he can make his
I am pleased to welcome the witnesses this afternoon. This
is a very important hearing on the reauthorization of the
McKinney-Vento Housing Programs. In the past year, the Urban
estimates that at least 2.3 million, and perhaps as many as 3.5
million people, have experienced homelessness. On any given day
in the United States, at least 800,000 people are homeless,
including about 200,000 children.
Homelessness has an especially devastating impact on these
children. If they are even able to go to school, homeless
children face significant challenges, such as learning
disabilities and emotional and behavioral problems.
Many of those without a home are asking for help. This
year's U.S. Conference of Mayors report on Hunger and
Homelessness in America's Cities states that requests for
emergency shelter by families increased by 22 percent.
Unfortunately, over half of all these requests for housing
assistance went unmet.
In my State, the Rhode Island Shelter System provided more
nights of shelter this past year than at any point in its
Locally and nationally, several trends seem clear. First,
despite the economic boom of the 1990's, homelessness has
increased. Second, increasing numbers of families with children
are being forced into our emergency shelter system. Just
yesterday, in The Washington Post, there was an article about
the 25 percent rise in homelessness in Fairfax County,
Virginia, in the past 4 years. Third, a relatively small number
of long-term chronically homeless persons continue to utilize a
disproportionate number of the bed nights in our Nation's
If you talk to service providers, they can give you a
laundry list of factors that contribute to homelessness--high
housing costs, low-paying jobs, domestic violence, substance
abuse, mental illness, changes and cuts in public assistance
programs, utility costs, and lack of health care.
At the national level, the Federal Government has created
nearly two dozen programs targeted toward people experiencing
homelessness. Unfortunately, these programs are administered by
eight different agencies.
When it was created in 1987, the McKinney-Vento Homeless
Assistance Act was intended to be an emergency response to the
crisis of homelessness. It appears that many McKinney-Vento
programs now serve not just those who are homeless, but those
who are not being serving by the traditional affordable housing
Instead, mainstream programs are now relying on homeless
assistance programs, shifting the cost and responsibility for
providing housing and services to the McKinney-Vento programs.
As a result, both homelessness and a separate support system,
have been institutionalized.
As many of you are aware, I have been working on a bill to
reauthorize the McKinney-Vento housing titles. First and
foremost, I believe that limited Federal dollars need to be
better focused on preventing and ending homelessness, not
simply maintaining it.
My proposal would realign the incentives behind HUD
homelessness assistance programs. More funding would flow to
communities that can demonstrate a commitment to accomplishing
the goals of preventing and ending homelessness.
My bill also would: Simplify and consolidate the HUD
homelessness assistance programs into one program; provide new
flexibility in using the McKinney-Vento funds; for the first
time, promote the building of new housing for families; target
funds for the development of permanent housing for the
disabled, provide incentives for the creation of new permanent
housing stock; promote comprehensive local planning through
HUD's Continuum of Care process; require greater
accountability; and increase coordination between Federal
Reauthorizing the housing titles of the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Act is the beginning. However, because the
needs of homeless individuals and families fall within the
jurisdiction of many Federal Departments and Congressional
committees, I believe additional legislation is also going to
be necessary in order to require Federal agencies such as the
HHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with HUD in
a more coordinated manner toward preventing and ending
Today, we will hear from two panels of witnesses. The first
panel will consist of: Roy A. Bernardi, Assistant Secretary,
Office of Community Planning and Development, U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development; and Stanley J. Czerwinski,
Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues, U.S. General
On the second panel we will hear from three homelessness
advocates about their efforts to prevent and to interrupt, we
hope, the homelessness in the United States. Ms. Nan P. Roman,
President, National Alliance to End Homelessness; Mr. Mitchell
Netburn, Executive Director, Los Angeles Homeless Services
Authority; and Ms. Mary Ann Gleason, Director, York County
Initiative to End Homelessness in Alfred, Maine.
We will be asking all of our witnesses to discuss the
homelessness problem in the United States, the strength and
weaknesses of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
housing programs, and proposals that should be considered as
part of reauthorizing legislation to increase the effectiveness
of Federal funds in preventing and ending homelessness.
As I am joined by my colleagues, I will introduce them and
offer them an opportunity to speak.
Now let me formally introduce our first panel.
Mr. Roy Bernardi is Assistant Secretary of Community
Planning and Development of the Department of Housing and Urban
Development. In this role, Mr. Bernardi is responsible for
overseeing the implementation of HUD's Homeless Assistance
Programs. Prior to joining the Administration, Mr. Bernardi was
the 51st Mayor of the city of Syracuse, New York.
He is joined by Stanley Czerwinski. Mr. Czerwinski is GAO's
Director for Physical Infrastructure Issues and as such is
responsible for overseeing evaluations concerning housing and
related issues. And Mr. Czerwinski is joined at the witness
table by Mr. Jason Bromberg.
Mr. Secretary, your statement will be made part of the
record. If you would like to summarize, you are encouraged to
STATEMENT OF ROY A. BERNARDI, ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OFFICE OF COMMUNITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Bernardi. Thank you, Chairman Reed.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here this afternoon
with you. On behalf of Secretary Martinez, I want to extend our
commitment to work with you to improve this Nation's response
to the problem of homelessness that you outlined.
HUD has a long history of addressing homelessness. Since
the McKinney-Vento Act's beginning in 1987, HUD has
administered an array of Federal homeless assistance programs.
The programs provide emergency, transitional, and permanent
housing for homeless persons. HUD's programs also provide for,
by law, a variety of supportive services, such as job training
and mental health treatment. Hundreds of thousands of men,
women, and children who have no place to call home have been
assisted by these programs.
Secretary Martinez intends to continue and even enhance our
efforts related to homelessness. The Bush Administration has
set a goal of ending chronic--or long-term--homelessness within
10 years. This is a bold goal. This is a goal that will require
many Federal, State, and local partners. But this is a goal
that together we can and will achieve.
The Federal Interagency Council on the Homeless was
recently reactivated and will be critical in ending chronic
homelessness. The member agencies of the Council elected
Secretary Martinez as Chairman and Secretary Tommy Thompson of
the Department of Health and Human Services as Vice Chairman.
At the meeting, Philip Mangano was appointed as the Executive
Director of the Council. Mr. Mangano is the former Director of
the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance and has
extensive experience in the field of homeless programs and
policy. The Council will be, among other activities, assessing
current Federal homeless efforts, reducing duplication among
programs, and identifying ways to effectively prevent
homelessness. We at HUD look forward to working closely with
the other member agencies of that Council.
Let me provide some background on HUD's present homeless
assistance efforts. The Department administers four McKinney-
Vento homeless assistance programs. Three of these are
competitive: The Supportive Housing Program, Shelter Plus Care,
and the Section 8 Single Room Occupancy, or the SRO Program.
The fourth program allocates funds by formula, the Emergency
Shelter Grants Program. Together, they provide over 70 percent
of all Federal McKinney funds administered by six Federal
agencies. In 2002, Congress appropriated and HUD will be
awarding over $1.1 billion in homeless assistance for these
To streamline the administration of these programs, in 1995
HUD implemented the Continuum of Care approach. Prior to that
time, individual projects were submitted to Washington for
review, and HUD picked which ones it thought were the most
important for each community. The Continuum calls on
communities--not individual projects--to identify their needs
related to homelessness--both housing and services. State and
local government, nonprofit agencies including faith groups, as
well as foundations, businesses, and homeless and formerly
homeless persons come together in this effort. The community
collectively identifies the inventory of resources they
currently have to address their various homeless needs. Any
unaddressed needs, or gaps, in the system are what communities
can request HUD to fund. Applicants can request funds for any
or all of the three competitive HUD programs. Communities
prioritize the projects they want funded and if eligible, and
the funds are available, HUD awards local projects based on the
community's prioritized list. The continuum approach has helped
coordinate housing and services for a population that is needy
and often difficult to effectively serve.
Let me briefly summarize the outcomes of this past
competition to give you a sense of the magnitude and impact of
these HUD programs. Over 450 continuums applied for funding in
2001. With many individual continuums representing several
cities and in some cases entire States, a significant portion
of America has a continuum. In fact, a full 90 percent of all
Americans now live within existing continuums. These continuums
submitted to HUD 3,275 projects for funding of which HUD was
able to fund 78 percent. With the $950 million that was awarded
in 2001, HUD will be supporting the operations of 70,000 beds.
When combining the housing and the services the funds support,
approximately 229,000 persons will be supported on any given
The current approach is helping many people, but given the
need on the streets--as you outlined, Mr. Chairman--of our
cities throughout this Nation, we must do much more. National
studies indicate that in any point in time there are over
600,000 persons who have no home. Many are homeless for only a
short time and with short-term housing and services they can
transition toward self-sufficiency. That number is
approximately 80 percent. However, a much smaller number are
homeless for extended periods of time and they suffer from
disabilities. As Dr. Dennis Culhane from the University of
Pennsylvania has pointed out in recent research, this
relatively small portion of disabled single homeless persons
consumes a large share of our public services. To the extent we
can provide permanent housing and support for this population--
this is a key point--the savings in resources can be used to
serve many more of the homeless persons who need only short-
Currently HUD is actively pursuing four major policy
initiatives to meet the goal of ending the problem of chronic
homelessness established by Secretary Martinez. The first
initiative is a joint task force made up of HUD, HHS, and the
Department of Veterans
Affairs. The second initiative is Policy Academies for States
and local leaders. The third initiative is improving the annual
competition to help drive this effort. And the fourth is HUD
proposes to consolidate its homeless assistance programs.
Our Joint Task Force: HUD and HHS have been meeting since
February 2001 and VA has recently come on board. The group's
purpose is to seek ways to increase the use of mainstream
Federal supportive service funds so that we at HUD are not
devoting a majority of our funds to services. Right now we
provide approximately 50 percent of our services for housing
and about 50 percent for services. Instead, HUD can once again
focus on its core mission--the provision of housing. The wide
range of HHS service programs has been represented at the
Federal task force. Sharing information about each other's
programs has been an important and fruitful first step. As part
of this process, HUD solicited input on how it could improve
its national grants application. Recommendations regarding
supportive services were provided by HHS and incorporated by
HUD into this year's application process.
Policy Academies: Another concrete outcome of our
collaboration with HHS is the planning and implementation of a
series of Policy Academies. Each Governor was invited to submit
an application for consideration to send a team of their top
mainstream health and human service officials with policy and
budgetary authority to a Policy Academy conference. The top 16
States were selected to attend either of two scheduled
Academies. We have plans for additional sessions. The sessions
give the State Teams the opportunity to meet and plan statewide
strategies on improving coordination and communication between
the various agencies within the State. The goal is to assist
State and local policymakers in developing an action plan to
improve access to the mainstream health and human services that
are coordinated with housing for homeless persons.
Changes to the Continuum Application: We have carefully
considered the comments of the States, cities, and nonprofit
providers as well as our Federal partners in preparing this
year's application. The application will focus less on process
and more on outcomes, clearly highlighting the importance of
housing and mainstream services. As the Notice of Funding
Availability for these funds has not yet been issued, I am
prevented at this time from providing the various details on
the improvements that we have made.
In addition to targeting homeless assistance to those most
in need, we concurrently want to prevent homelessness. Homeless
prevention is sensible and cost-effective. By lowering the rate
of entry of people into the homeless population, service
providers can more effectively aid those who are currently
homeless. In addition to saving the cost of shelter and related
social services, and you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, prevention
efforts can also reduce the human and social costs of
homelessness. Homeless prevention programs also help people to
maintain steady employment and self-sufficiency, thereby
generating real benefits for themselves, our communities, our
schools, and our places of work.
The linchpin of HUD's McKinney-Vento homeless prevention
effort is the Emergency Shelter Grants Program. As you all
know, this is a formula program. Up to 30 percent of an ESG
grantee's funds can be used for homeless prevention. Other HUD
programs can and do provide community development and housing
assistance to State and local governments to assist low-income
and other persons in avoiding homelessness. These will include
the Community Development Block Grant Program, the HOME
Program, the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, our
HOPWA Program, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and the
Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
There are many successful examples of our prevention
efforts. I want to share with you one such effort. The
Community Sharing Funds of the St. Paul Foundation in Minnesota
is considered a ``last resort'' emergency fund. Working through
a network of 70
social service agencies in a three-county area, this recipient
of ESG homeless prevention monies serves clients who are in
danger of being evicted from their homes and are not eligible
for help elsewhere. A thorough screening process and
documentation of the eviction proceedings help staff to assess
the potential for solving the housing problem through short-
term cash assistance. In some cases, clients are required to
attend financial management classes prior to receiving monetary
assistance. Where a ``reasonable'' chance of success in solving
the problem exists, financial awards--averaging $400--are made
to the referring agency, which in turn that referring agency
presents a check to the landlord to pay the rent, thus
preventing that family from becoming homeless.
Let us talk a bit about our HMIS, our efforts related to
Homeless Management Information System. You can see the
disparity in the numbers. I mentioned that on any given day
there were 600,000 people that are homeless on our streets, and
I believe, Senator, you said as high as 800,000 people. The
Department has adopted a comprehensive approach to addressing
Congressional direction to collecting homeless information in
all jurisdictions and nationally. To facilitate that effort,
Congress developed, with the input from the HUD staff, a new
eligibility activity in HUD's Supportive Housing Program. This
initiative is resulting in many homeless projects receiving
grant assistance to implement and operate the HMIS systems. To
further support this effort, in September 2001, we initiated a
$4.1 million 2 year technical assistance contract to assist the
Continuum of Care communities. We are currently in the process
of reviewing proposals for setting standards for local and
national homeless data collection and implementing an annual
homeless assessment report to Congress. It is through this HMIS
effort that we will be able to better measure the performance
of our progress in ending chronic homelessness and effectively
assist homeless persons generally in moving toward self-
The Department will be submitting a proposal to consolidate
its three competitive homeless programs. Communities, not
Federal mandates, can end homelessness. Using the groundwork
laid through the Continuum process, we want to empower the
States and cities to more effectively solve their problem
within their jurisdictions. We have been and will continue to
be meeting with public interest groups about our proposal. We
are soliciting their feedback and recommendations as we develop
The Department wants to take the best elements of the
current competitive system and improve upon them. We recognize
that the community-wide planning aspect of the continuum
process is a very positive feature. The coordination that is
going on in communities between city agencies, non-profit
organizations, and other groups such as foundations and
businesses is something that we want to retain in our proposal.
We recognize the vital role that nonprofit organizations
provide in communities. They actively participate in assessing
needs and prioritizing which projects should be funded. They
also are usually the frontline providers of assistance to
homeless persons, and we will be examining how nonprofits can
continue to play this important role.
There are some features of the current process that need to
be changed. For instance, three of the current programs that
constitute the Continuum of Care each have different eligible
applicants, different eligible activities, different match
requirements, and different grant terms. It is often difficult
for local organizations to negotiate through the complexity of
the current array of programs. We need to be more flexible to
communicate with them and have additional success.
In addition to providing more flexibility to communities, a
streamlined approach to awarding funds will significantly
reduce the amount of time it takes to assist homeless persons.
Through a national competition system where up to 4,000
projects must be rated and reviewed before awards are made, HUD
requires nearly 18 months from the time the funds are
appropriated to when a homeless person is actually assisted.
Under a more streamlined approach, the typical community, which
has fewer than 15 projects, might review and award its projects
in a matter of weeks, not months. This approach might use a
formula for award that combines the measures of needs, strong
performance standards, and incentives so as not to be confused
with an entitlement. Performance standards such as those
related to accessing mainstream resources for clients and
placing long-term homeless persons in permanent supportive
housing are being considered.
In closing, HUD is committed to making a difference in the
lives of those who are unfortunate not have a home. We look
forward to working with you to make that a reality.
A proposal is a proposal is a proposal. A function of our
agency is to talk to everyone involved--the providers, the
people who have been through the process, local and State
governments, your staff, yourselves--and try to develop a
system where we can better utilize the funds that we have
available to us, and at the same time try to reverse that
number on homelessness.
Senator Reed. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. It was
important to give you the time to lay out in detail the
position of the Administration, and thank you for your
We have been joined by the Ranking Member, Senator Allard.
Senator, do you want to make a statement now?
STATEMENT OF SENATOR WAYNE ALLARD
Senator Allard. I do have a statement, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to thank you for holding this hearing of the
Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation. This Subcommittee
has discussed reauthorization on previous occasions. I look
forward to the opportunity to continue that dialogue.
In 1987, Congress passed the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless
Assistance Act, now known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless
Assistance Act. This Act was the first comprehensive law
addressing the diverse needs of the homeless, including
programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, the
Department of Education, the Department of Labor, the
Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Housing and
Until enactment of this law, the problems confronted by the
homeless were mainly addressed at the State and local level.
The McKinney Act represented a consensus that has developed
that a major Federal commitment was required to end
Currently, the Federal Government devotes significant
resources to the homeless. According to the General Accounting
Office, 50 Federal programs administered by 8 Federal agencies
provide various services to our Nation's homeless population.
The President's fiscal year 2003 Budget proposes dedicating
$2.2 billion in homeless assistance, with half of that amount,
$1.1 billion, to be distributed through HUD's homeless
Despite the enormous Federal resources that are directed
toward homelessness, the problem persists. We need to bring
accountability to homeless assistance, increasing funding for
successful programs and initiatives, and replacing the
I want to make one thing clear. I do not pretend to have
the answer to how we deal with homelessness. But one thing is
clear: We have to get better. I believe that this hearing is an
important opportunity to continue the discussion of how we can
best address homelessness.
I am very pleased to see that the Administration makes
ending chronic homelessness in the next 10 years a top
priority. Particularly, I support the Administration's proposal
to consolidate HUD's three competitive programs into one
streamlined program. This will reduce administrative
duplication at HUD and will make it easier for grantees to
apply for money. Although HUD has not specified a distribution
mechanism for a consolidated program, I would like to express
my support for a formula-based block grant approach.
It seems to me that a block grant gives local communities
the flexibility to deal with unique situations in their
jurisdiction. The answers to homelessness are different in
Loveland, Colorado, my hometown, for example, than for New York
I also believe that a block grant gives communities a
predictable funding stream so that they can plan ahead in order
to integrate homeless assistance with other Government funds
and begin to build a strong Continuum of Care network in their
I would like to conclude by welcoming our witnesses to the
Subcommittee. You have all done a great deal of work with
homeless programs and will no doubt have a great deal of
insight to share. I appreciate you being here, and thank you
for your testimony.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Reed. Thank you, Senator Allard.
Mr. Czerwinski, your statement has been made a part of the
record. You are encouraged to take about 5 minutes.
STATEMENT OF STANLEY J. CZERWINSKI
DIRECTOR, PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES
U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
JASON BROMBERG, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST
Mr. Czerwinski. I will stay within the clock, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Reed. Thank you, very much. You are a veteran
Mr. Czerwinski. And as a veteran witness before the Subcom-
mittee, it is always a pleasure to appear before you, Mr.
Chairman, and Senator Allard.
Before I begin, I would like to thank you for allowing
Jason Bromberg to join us at the table. Jason has led the
majority of our key reviews of homelessness and as a result he
has a wealth of on-the-ground experiences which I hope we can
draw on to illustrate some of the themes I want to bring up.
As we know, homelessness is both a complex and significant
problem. It has been estimated that 10 percent of the people
currently in poverty have been homeless at one time or another.
As it has already been mentioned in this hearing, that on any
given night 600,000 to 800,000 people may be homeless. The
homeless population is not homogenous. About 80 percent are
temporarily homeless. Their immediate need is shelter. And,
over the long haul, probably the biggest thing we can do for
them is to find them affordable housing. About 20 percent,
however, are chronic homeless. They do not lack just shelter,
but they suffer from other problems such as substance abuse and
These people usually have long-term needs for housing and
many other services, and we have talked a little bit about the
challenges they pose today. Families, more often, are going to
be found as temporarily homeless; whereas the chronic homeless
likely to be single adult males.
The Federal approach to assisting the homeless reflects the
complexities of the problem. As you, Mr. Chairman and Senator
Allard, mentioned, there are about 50 programs administered by
eight Federal agencies addressing the needs of the homeless.
Thirty-four of these are mainstream programs for poor people in
general, of which the homeless obviously qualify. Sixteen
programs, though, are targeted specifically to the homeless at
a cost of approximately $2 billion a year. HUD has a majority
of the funding for these for four programs. These programs
offer an array of service including shelter, substance abuse,
food assistance, and job training. Services are sometimes
offered in isolation; other times, in different combinations.
Eligibility also varies. Some are targeted to families. Others
to veterans. Some are for children. Some are for chronic
homeless. Others are for transitional. The delivery system also
involves many agencies and levels of government--Federal,
State, and local governments, and nonprofit organizations. The
result is a challenge to both agencies and providers in
coordinating the programs, and integrating the services.
Especially in the case of mainstream programs, what we often
see is a fragmented instead of an integrated safety net.
If we think of the homeless people and their multiple
needs, we are asking them to navigate a system that they just
are not equipped to handle.
Accordingly, I would like to talk about two areas where I
think we can make a difference. The delivery of benefits can be
improved by looking at several things.
First, we should make better use of the mainstream
programs, as you mentioned in your opening statement, Mr.
Chairman. The homeless are eligible, as I said, for 34
mainstream programs. These programs include such as Food
Stamps, SSI, and Medicaid. The funding for these programs is
over $200 billion a year. In other words, more than 100 times
the amount that is targeted to the homeless. And yet, most
mainstream programs do not track the number of homeless they
serve, nor do they have goals for serving the homeless. And in
fact, they even have disincentives for serving homeless
because, as we have talked about, the needs of the homeless are
complex. That means it takes more time and effort to serve a
homeless person than a poor person in general. Accordingly, we
believe that the service to homeless could be improved by
providing mainstream programs with incentives to serve the
homeless, and then holding them accountable for doing that.
I would also like to talk a moment about the targeted
programs where we know there are a number of coordination and
administration challenges. These include dealing with different
types of organizations. For example, training centers could go
in and get a grant under the Supportive Housing Program;
whereas the Emergency Shelter Grants would only go to State and
Second, another area of difference in the targeted programs
are the recipients. For example, Shelter Plus Care focuses on
disabled people. Single-Room Occupancy, as it sounds, is for
single adults. Other differences include the services provided,
and the time period that funds are provided, the requirement
for matching funds.
I want to commend HUD because it led the way in trying to
work through these challenges. And this is primarily through
the Continuum of Care. I will only spend a moment on it,
because Mr. Bernardi already talked about this, but our view of
the Continuum of Care is that it does a very good job of asking
communities to coordinate, plan, and prioritize its services to
the homeless. It also provides a single annual competition and
a uniform rating criteria.
In our view, HUD with a Continuum of Care has taken things
about as far as they can go without legislation. Therefore, I
would like to close with a brief discussion of some areas where
we think legislation could help beyond the Continuum of Care.
First, we believe legislation should aim at streamlining
the grant making process. I believe we have talked a little bit
about that today already. In doing so, we think that a big part
would be to make communities more likely to integrate the
mainstream programs into the overall fabric of homeless
assistance. Again, this is much along the lines that you
mentioned, Mr. Chairman.
Second, and this is of course what GAO would talk about, we
want greater reliance on performance measures for both agencies
and providers. This would include agencies and providers with a
requirement to develop outcome measures, and then hold them to
From what I have heard today, I would say the Subcommittee
is on the right track. I would like to commend you for leading
the way on this important issue.
With that, I would like to enter my statement in the
record, and if you have any questions I would be glad to
Senator Reed. Thank you very much, Mr. Czerwinski.
Mr. Secretary, let me first turn to you and commend you,
the President, and the Secretary for picking a very aggressive
goal, to end homelessness in 10 years. Yet, comments from
agencies like the National Alliance to End Homelessness suggest
the budget that you are working with will not achieve that
Specifically, there is a built-in need to maintain people
in housing which could consume significant resources, leaving
just not enough to go the extra mile, if you will, and do the
things you have to do and to ensure that in 10 years starting
today that homelessness would be something in the past. Can you
comment on the goals, given the funding levels you are
requesting in your budget?
Mr. Bernardi. The importance would be to try to make sure
that all the people that need services, that they have the
mainstream programs available to them. We just heard that in
many instances that $200 billion number was mentioned, we
should be able to be giving people choices out there, and give
them the opportunity to have housing, and to have the
supportive services that are necessary so that emergency
housing is first, then transitional, then permanent.
What we need to do is place people in permanent housing,
going through the system. We at HUD cannot do that alone. We
only have, as Senator Allard has indicated, $1.1 billion for
this year's budget. The fact of the matter remains that we
spend 50 percent, as I mentioned, of our dollars on services.
And to provide those kinds of services--that number has been
rising over the years--we need to do more to make sure that we
prevent homelessness and provide permanent housing for those
that need it.
Senator Reed. No, I do not think anyone can disagree with
your comments. But the reality seems to be that it takes a lot
of money to keep these services going. You cannot stop the
services because people depend upon them. Yet, you have to
find--and I would argue, you would have to construct additional
housing so that you can put these people in housing. And that
all costs money.
We come back to the budget that you are presenting, which
is a challenge just to keep in place, given that budget, rather
than getting ahead, and particularly if in 10 years we want to
look back and say we have ended homelessness.
Mr. Bernardi. That is very true. But we have to live within
the confines of our budget.
Senator Reed. Well, I am sending you over to the Department
Mr. Bernardi. The Millenium Commission is looking at the
issue of affordable housing, and we will wait to see their
Senator Reed. Mr. Czerwinski, again, thank you for your
testimony. One of the things you emphasized was the need to
accountability, and that the present programs are competitive.
And, I think, we all sense that we need to consolidate these
But there is a difference between having a consolidated
grant program and a block grant. One of the aspects I think is
it eliminates sometimes the accountability, the ability to look
annually at the quality of effort in the particular community.
A formula block grant is just what it purports to be. You can
expect confidently every year you will get so much money. And
the accountability I think does not follow necessarily. Can you
comment upon that, Mr. Czerwinski?
Mr. Czerwinski. There are pros and cons to the block grant
versus competitive approach.
On the competitive side, one thing that we think is
important is to give the funds to those that are doing the most
with them. That would be outcomes. By ``outcomes,'' I mean the
providers would show what has happened over the long-term with
people who have entered the system.
Now on the block grant side, there are ease of
administration and predictability of funding, and, of course,
that is one of the things that we hear from providers, that
they want that. So the job is to try to have the best of both
Senator Reed. I would agree. I think one of the areas that
again there seems to be consensus in is the Continuum of Care
approach that has been very successful because, not only has it
in a way helped coordination but it has also helped getting a
dialogue going at the local level.
And again, perhaps one concern about a block grant approach
is this dialogue might evaporate when, in fact, you have a
formula and you will get the money whether or not you are
talking to each other or not. So again, I see your point, which
is about balance, and I think it is an important point.
I am wondering, going back to you, Mr. Secretary, we talked
about this budget number. Do you have estimates what it would
take if there were no budget constraints? This is a much more
appropriate way to ask the question, to in fact end
homelessness in 10 years?
Mr. Bernardi. I do not have those, Senator. But if we have
them at the Agency, I will make sure that I get those to you.
Senator Reed. Is anyone working along those lines? And I
understand that we all have to live within limits but it helps
to know what we are sacrificing, or how much we are falling
short of a reasonable plan to end homelessness in 10 years.
I think it is incumbent upon the Department if they are
announcing a goal, they should also be able to be
straightforward about how much it will cost, and then challenge
us, the American people, to measure up.
Mr. Bernardi. Well, Senator, as we talk about changing the
competitive nature of the homelessness program right now, we
feel very strongly that if we were to allow the communities to
have the consortiums at a local level participate in the
process, that we could realize a significant savings.
The fact of the matter is that the competitive program has,
as I mentioned, over 3,000 applications that have to be looked
at, and graded. You appropriate the dollars, and 18 months
later the dollars finally flow to the community. To me that is
an incredibly long time and it is really not the best way to
utilize the resources that we have.
So utilizing the resources we have to put a system in place
with the Continuums, where those agencies and those active
groups at the local level would still have the decisionmaking
power. They would make the determination as to where the money
was being spent and we could get that money to them a lot
Senator Reed. No one can argue about better efficiency,
Mr. Bernardi. Well, that is one way of doing it.
Senator Reed. --and a fast review.
I think if you do an analysis you will discover that we are
talking about a lot of money in terms of ending homelessness,
truly ending it in 10 years. Any thoughts, Mr. Czerwinski, or
your colleague, about the number?
Mr. Czerwinski. My first reaction, Mr. Chairman, when I saw
that, I said, ``My goodness, they are sticking their necks
out.'' Then I said, ``Well, it is not 3 years or 7 years, so I
was not quite sure whose neck they were sticking out.''
But in all seriousness, the answer is two-fold. In the
short run, you need to provide the services and the housing,
and the only way that is going to happen is by leveraging the
mainstream. That is where the devil is in the details.
I would look to see just how we are going to deliver those
mainstream services. In the long run what we are dealing with
are some economic factors that may be beyond all of our
control, or certainly are beyond HUD's. One is, for example,
looking at the policies for deinstitutionalizing people. The
other is the one that you mentioned, which is within HUD but it
is a gargantuan task, and that is looking at the unmet housing
needs, which we know are very large.
Senator Reed. Thank you very much.
Senator Allard. Mr. Secretary, the figure was thrown out
that 20 percent of the homeless use 80 percent of the dollars
available for--is it homeless programs, or just for the HUD
program itself ? It was not clear to me.
Mr. Bernardi. The HUD programs.
Senator Allard. Just in the HUD program. You also stated
that most of these homeless ones that are most difficult to
deal with is the single male. So is this 20 percent that we are
talking about single males? Are they a highly mobile
Mr. Bernardi. They are highly mobile.
Senator Allard. They are moving around.
Mr. Bernardi. They are predominantly male with substance
abuse, mental illness issues.
Senator Allard. But they could be transitional from job to
job. Do we have any idea what percent is transitional from job
Mr. Bernardi. A very low employment rate.
Senator Allard. Yes. I would assume much lower than what it
was say 20 or 30 years ago when you had more of a rural
population and they would be moving from ranch to ranch, farm
to farm, for jobs and that kind of thing.
Mr. Bernardi. It is very difficult to count this kind of a
population. That is why the HMIS program is going to go a long
way to making the determination of the exact number because I
do not think any of us really know exactly what that number is
Senator Allard. Yes.
Mr. Bernardi. And how can you service it if you do not have
all the parameters. Once that management information system,
once the Continuums with the money that is being provided to
them, have the opportunity to assess the situation, then we
will know better how to serve it.
Senator Allard. I bring that up because saying that you are
going to eliminate all of homelessness is kind of like saying
you are going to have nobody unemployed, because there is a
transitional group there that is going to be moving from job to
job that would fall into unemployed for a period of time. I was
just inquiring of whether you would have a certain percentage
there that would apply probably to single males.
Mr. Bernardi. I think we at HUD understand full well that
to realize that goal we are going to need the mainstream
services from the other agencies take place.
As I mentioned earlier, and I will repeat it for the third
time, we are in the housing business, and yet we provide 50
percent of those dollars for services.
Senator Allard. Yes. Well, let us follow up on that at
Would you talk a bit about the type of administrative
burden we are placing on States and communities right now when
we have four main McKinney Housing Programs? My understanding
is that each one of these have a different set of requirements
in filling out applications and whatnot.
Maybe, I will ask Mr. Czerwinski, because I think he talked
about that in his discussion, to talk a little bit about this
burden on States and communities meeting the requirements of
these four programs.
Mr. Czerwinski. Sure. The upside of targeted programs is
that they meet specific goals. The downside is that the people
who are providing those specific sources of assistance have to
meet specific requirements to get the funds to do that.
We have done quite a number of reviews going out and
talking to people at the State, local, and nonprofit level, and
they have laid out several issues that concern them.
One was the application process. They told us they would be
very much helped if HUD would help them with some of the
information that they could use to fill out the applications.
The other is the predictability of funding.
Senator Allard. But the application requirements are the
ones that I am particularly interested in. My understanding is
you have four different McKinney Programs with different
requirements, and I would like to kind of get on the record a
little bit of how these are a problem for local and State
governments that apply for them.
Mr. Bernardi. The Emergency Shelter Grants, the eligibility
there is the State and local governments, and your other
organizations do not have access to that funding. That is on a
formula basis. The other three programs are competitive. That
competition is open to--well, it depends on which one of the
three you are speaking of--not all of them are open. Some are
open to State and local government, and some are not. But the
competition ends up in Washington where we take those 3,000-
plus applications and go through those.
We are going to streamline that. If we can streamline that,
we not only can save an awful lot of time, but also we can save
money and we can drive it back to the communities.
Senator Allard. Let me talk a little about the Continuum of
Care. I think it has a pretty complex application process, and
many jurisdictions or nonprofits apparently are forced to hire
professional grant writers in order to be competitive for the
assistance dollars. Do you consider this a wise use of
Mr. Bernardi. The local Continuums, obviously, have the
expertise. I think as we have all indicated, they provide the
services. Being a former Mayor, I can tell you that we would
never be able to run a community without the good services of
the not-for-profits, faith-based groups, and other
organizations. In most instances, they can handle the grant-
writing I believe without hiring outside people to do so. But
in some instances, it depends on the level of technical
expertise. It depends on the ability that they have. But within
their own jurisdictions, I am sure your smaller jurisdictions
probably need that kind of assistance to go through the
process. That is another good reason why we should simplify it.
Senator Allard. Thank you.
I see my time has expired, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Reed. Thank you, Senator Allard.
Mr. Secretary, one final question, if I may. You have
identified a key dilemma that we all face. That is, HUD is a
housing agency that is providing lots of social services.
That raises the obvious question of how do we encourage
other agencies in their budgets, who might not because of
organizational responsibility, be sensitive to homelessness and
increase the services to this population, like HHS, Department
of Labor, and all the different Departments, Commerce programs,
Mr. Bernardi. Well, the Interagency Council, as I mentioned
in my opening statement, Mr. Mangano, I believe on March 15
will be sworn in, and that is being revived after being dormant
believe 5 or 7 years. And that is going to take the 16 agencies
that are involved here and bring them together and hopefully
will be able to work something out where we can do some cross-
cutting here and where HHS provides a service organization. We
are a housing organization.
If there are ways in which we can do things that can
improve the delivery of services, and who is to pay for those
services, then perhaps we could do more with permanent housing
for our homeless population.
Senator Reed. Thank you.
Senator, any other questions?
Senator Allard. Just one thing I wanted to follow up on.
You mentioned that there are a lot of homeless programs that
are provided by other agencies or that you provide programs in
HUD that are not related to housing for the homeless. So what
can be done to get other agencies to shoulder more of the
assisting homeless people to free these dollars up for housing
Mr. Bernardi. Yes. Exactly.
Senator Allard. Is there more that we can do? What can be
done to do that?
Mr. Bernardi. I think the Interagency Council on The
Homeless, but obviously your good works and conversations with
the other agencies can contribute to that process, indicating
that you feel strongly, as we do, that the more money that we
have for housing and I think there are records that indicate
that; that if you can provide permanent housing to individuals,
they are less likely to be out in the street; then, the job
training, and the employment that follows leads to self-
sufficiency for them and their families. That is really what we
are working on here.
It is episodic in many instances. I mean the majority of
the people that are out there that are homeless, maybe they
lost a job, or it is domestic violence, or someone just is out
of the mainstream for awhile, but 80 percent of those people
eventually go through emergency transitional, and then they are
into permanent housing.
For example, I have some numbers here. In 2001, over 35,000
persons became employed while in HUD's homeless projects. So it
does work. And we need to do more with it, and we are committed
to doing more.
The fact remains that the long-term homeless individuals
that are out there, they are the most difficult to serve. And
collectively we need to find a way to put them through the
system into permanent housing and hopefully some day into self-
Mr. Czerwinski. Senator Allard, if I may offer a little bit
more hard-nosed answer, coordination is nice but it is really
hard to measure. And in our line of business, we want something
that we can measure.
I go back to a hearing that we did for you probably about a
year or two ago on GPRA. What I would suggest is, if the
Administration sets an overall goal of ending homelessness, we
know HUD cannot do that by itself, it becomes incumbent upon
the Administration to then say how the other agencies are going
And going along with GPRA principles, what we would suggest
is performance management, which would ask the agencies to
track the number of homeless they are serving; ask them to find
out what happens to them; and hold them accountable through
It becomes part of that concerted fabric that we would get
at that issue. There is no way that HUD can do it by itself. It
has to be through a concerted effort. And the only way that we
would say is with measures that people can be held accountable
for to oversee it such as yourselves.
Senator Allard. Thank you.
Senator Reed. Thank you, Senator Allard.
Thank you, Mr. Czerwinski, for your testimony.
Secretary Bernardi, thank you. It is hard to predict lots
of things, but I predict you are rooting for Syracuse in the
Mr. Czerwinski. They better beat Villanova or they will not
be going to the NCAA finals.
Senator Reed. Well, I think I know where your sentiments
are in that regard.
Just one other final point. I concur, Mr. Secretary, with
importance of the Interagency Council. The legislation I am
proposing would authorize a million dollars for the Council to
actually move it into the Executive Office so it could truly
have oversight over these individual agencies.
Thank you, gentlemen, very much.
Mr. Bernardi. Thank you.
Mr. Czerwinski. Thank you.
Senator Reed. I would like to call the next panel forward,
Before recognizing all the members of the witness panel, I
would like to recognize our colleague, Senator Susan Collins
from Maine. Senator Collins and I collaborated on a host of
different issues. She has been a leader in the Senate in lead
paint exposure among children. She has done remarkable work in
many areas, and it is a pleasure to have you here.
Susan, you are going to introduce Mary Ann Gleason.
STATEMENT OF SUSAN M. COLLINS
A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF MAINE
Senator Collins. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank you and Senator Allard for your leadership
in the area of housing policy, and to let you know, Mr.
Chairman, how much I have enjoyed working with you on so many
issues that are important to the citizens of our States and the
It is such a great pleasure to be here today to introduce
one of the Nation's foremost experts on the problem of
homelessness. We are very fortunate to have an expert witness
here today who not only has direct experience with Federal
policy affecting homelessness, but also has done a tremendous
job at the local level with programs in Maine.
That individual is Mary Ann Gleason, who sits to my right.
I was trying to remember today when I first met Mary Ann. She
came to my office several times in Washington, and is largely
responsible for my getting personally involved on issues
affecting the homeless individuals and their families.
I worked very closely with her and the York County Homeless
Shelter in southern Maine, and I was very honored to receive an
award from them one year for my work. She has been a wonderful
Ms. Gleason worked here in Washington for a number of years
as the Executive Director of the National Coalition for the
Homeless, where she worked with Members of Congress, the
Administration, and Federal agencies to advocate for a more
effective public policy to expand and better employ Federal
resources to help those who find themselves homeless, and also
to address the root causes of homelessness. That is one of the
parts of Mary Ann's approach that, I think, will be
particularly helpful to this Committee.
To the delight of those of us in Maine, Ms. Gleason decided
to return to the frontlines in 2001 and became the Director of
the York County Initiative to End Homelessness. In that
capacity, she has worked diligently to promote both policy and
attitudinal changes throughout our State. Her commitment and
dedication to combating homelessness in Maine has had an
immense impact in improving services, and I am pleased that one
of my staff members serves on the Coalition and on the Study
Aside from her duties with York County, Ms. Gleason has
also made time to act as the Chair of the Monitoring and
Evaluation Subcommittee on the Maine Homeless Assistance
Advisory Committee, and she has been a Member of the Maine
Affordable Housing Bond Issue Steering Committee. As you will
see from her testimony today, Ms. Gleason continues to take an
active role in Federal policy, and I think her testimony will
be particularly helpful to the Committee because she has been
on the frontlines. She has been not only an advocate, but also
someone who has been directly involved in providing services.
So, she knows this issue inside and out. I am thankful to have
her as an advisor, and I want to take this opportunity to
express my appreciation for her work. I look forward to working
with the Committee.
Thank you, very much.
Senator Reed. Thank you, Senator Collins. Thank you for
coming here today and introducing Ms. Gleason.
Let me introduce our other two witnesses and then recognize
Senator Dodd for some opening comments. Ms. Gleason is joined
by Ms. Nan Roman. Ms. Roman is President of the National
Alliance to End Homelessness, a leading voice on the issue of
homelessness. The Alliance is a public education advocacy and
capacity building organization with over 2,000 nonprofit and
public sector member agencies and corporate partners around the
Thank you for joining us, Ms. Roman.
Next to Ms. Roman is Mr. Mitchell Netburn. Mr. Netburn is
the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services
Authority, LAHSA, a joint powers authority of the city and the
county of Los Angeles. Before coming to LAHSA, Mr. Netburn
served as First Deputy Commissioner for the New York City
Department of Homeless Services. From 1993 to 1996, Mr. Netburn
was the Assistant Commissioner for Ryan White Care Services at
the New York
Department of Health. Thank you, Mr. Netburn.
Senator Dodd, would you like to make an opening statement?
STATEMENT OF SENATOR CHRISTOPHER J. DODD
Senator Dodd. Yes, Mr. Chairman. Thanks so much. I
apologize for arriving a few minutes late. We had several
meetings with the Technology Committee on some issues. There
are always so many things going on at once.
But first of all, welcome to the witnesses. Thank you, Mr.
Chairman, for holding this hearing. It is a very important
issue, and one that unfortunately is not going away. I mean we
all wish it would.
I wish we could be standing here and that I could call Lucy
McKinney, Stu McKinney's wife, who is a wonderful friend of
mine. Their son, John, who is a State Senator in Connecticut
today--I saw just the other day in the State Capital in
Hartford--and how proud they are of what their father
accomplished as a Member of the House Delegation. Stu and I
served together for a number of years when he represented the
4th Congressional District, the District held by Chris Shays
today in Connecticut.
What a wonderful hearing this would be if we say that the
McKinney-Vento Program was no longer needed.
But I am very grateful to you and the witnesses for sharing
their thoughts with us on this. I would note--as I am sure you
already, Mr. Chairman, but maybe it deserves being repeated--
that there are still anywhere from 800,000 to 1 million people
who are homeless.
What is really troubling to me is that a quarter of those
are kids. Whatever one feels about adults, I mean, it is never
justified when you start looking at the conditions that adults
live with, but how anyone could feel that almost a quarter of a
million Americans who are infants living in anything but a safe
environment is acceptable is beyond me. And the numbers
continue to grow.
We saw with the mayors recently, three-quarters of them I
think indicated that this is a problem for them. It is not
pocketed in New York and some other large urban areas. It is
across the country and it deserves our attention.
It is wonderful to have Susan Collins, as well, and to add
voice to Ms. Gleason's testimony. She knows a lot about these
issues and brings wonderful background and experience we need
It is a complex issue, obviously, Mr. Chairman, to deal
with. I am particularly interested, and I know Senator Allard
is, on the block grant issue. I know it was kicked around a
little bit here, but I am nervous about what happens in a block
grant in dealing with this issue, and I want to raise those
issues when the proper time comes for some questions.
So thank you, and thank all of you for being here.
Appreciate it very much.
Senator Reed. Thank you, Senator Dodd.
STATEMENT OF NAN P. ROMAN
PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ALLIANCE
TO END HOMELESSNESS, WASHINGTON, DC
Ms. Roman. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman, Senators
Allard, and Dodd, for inviting the National Alliance to End
Homelessness to testify before you today.
We are certainly grateful for the Subcommittee's past
efforts to address this issue. The National Alliance to End
Homelessness is convinced that not only could our Nation do a
better job of helping homeless people, but also that ending
homelessness is well within our grasp.
How could homelessness be ended? There is no question that
homelessness would be ended if there were an adequate supply of
affordable housing in the country. But the more realistic
question that confronts us is, ``Can we do something about
homelessness if there is not an adequate supply of affordable
We think that the answer is yes, and I think it is amazing
to hear the degree of consensus that has been expressed here
today about what we could do to make progress.
Millions of people, as has been mentioned, become homeless
in our Nation each year, and there are some 40,000 nonprofit
and public sector programs that spend billions of dollars to
help them. As has been said, the system is primarily funded at
the national level through HUD and this system is functioning
fairly well, we think, to manage the problem. It ends
homelessness for thousands of people every day.
However, the homeless assistance system cannot prevent
homelessness, and it cannot open the back door out of
homelessness. It would be a mistake to think that we could hold
the homelessness assistance system itself responsible for
ending homelessness. In fact, I think that no matter how
perfect we make homeless assistance programs, there is no way
that it alone is going to be able to end homelessness.
There are programs that have the resources and
responsibility for doing that. Mainstream programs like
welfare, foster care, Veterans assistance, and so forth, can
prevent and end homelessness.
But rather than being a safety net, as you said they are
shifting responsibility and cost for the most vulnerable people
into the homeless assistance system. So what can be done to
change this dynamic?
The National Alliance to End Homelessness has developed a
pragmatic plan that could end homelessness, we think, in 10
years. Basically it suggests that communities reorient around
ending not managing homelessness. They need to close the front
door into the homeless system, reversing the trend by which the
mainstream programs allow most vulnerable people to become
homeless, and they need to open the back door out of
To do the latter, we have to examine people's experience of
homelessness. As has been discussed in the Committee Members'
statements and by previous witnesses, about 80 percent of
people enter and exit the homeless system relatively quickly.
These people are having a housing crisis. They have virtually
the same characteristics as other poor but nonhomeless people.
They really need plain vanilla affordable housing.
In a sense, the homeless system is managing the churn in
the bottom of the housing market for that 80 percent.
Twenty percent of people have a very different experience.
Chronically homeless people spend months and even years in the
homeless system. A groundbreaking study that was done by the
University of Pennsylvania shows that the cost of letting
people live on the street is very high. In New York City a
chronically mentally ill, homeless person living on the streets
costs public systems of care about $40,000 a year. It costs
about the same amount of money to put that person in supported
housing with services. So, we are going to pay on one end or
the other. It would certainly make sense to do the permanent
For the 80 percent that is having a housing crisis, we
would suggest taking a housing-first approach focused more
tightly on rapid housing placement and connection to mainstream
services. We should avoid letting people stay homeless for long
periods of time. For the 20 percent, we should commit ourselves
to permanent supportive housing and, over 10 years, even at
current spending levels, we should be able to provide 200,000
units of that housing. In our view, any reorganization of
homeless assistance should be measured against whether it makes
progress in ending homelessness.
The draft bill, Senator Reed, that you have prepared does,
we think, help us make progress. In terms of planning, it
creates planning boards that are charged with a wide range of
responsibilities. The goals of these boards are admirable, and
since they build on existing local capacity and do not try to
create a whole new system, I think they move us forward. We
have some concern that the issue of local data should be
addressed more specifically in the bill.
In terms of closing the front door, the draft bill has
numerous references to homelessness prevention, and this is a
welcome shift in emphasis. However, reauthorization of homeless
assistance programs at HUD cannot be expected to compel action
in a full range of mainstream systems of care, and we think
that companion legislation focused on HHS and other agencies
might more effectively address these prevention and discharge
In terms of opening the back door, the draft bill clearly
improves the outcome focus of the homeless assistance programs.
The Alliance is particularly supportive of the set-aside of
funds for permanent supportive housing for people with
disabilities, and the
renewal of permanent housing through Section 8.
This proposal does, in fact, put meat on the bones of the
Administration's proposal to end chronic homelessness, and we
are very strongly supportive of it.
In summary, the Federal Government can do three things to
help end homelessness. First, it can adjust the existing
homeless programs to improve their outcome orientation, and I
believe that the draft bill you have presented does accomplish
this. Second, it can make the mainstream systems of care and
custodial systems more responsive to people's housing
situation. Again, I think that the draft, while it cannot
entirely do that, sets the stage for progress in this area. And
third, it can address the underlying affordable housing
shortage, income, and service issues, and although this is
beyond the purview of the draft legislation, we look forward to
working with the Members of the Subcommittee to address these
issues, as well.
Thank you for your commitment and contributions on this
Senator Reed. Thank you very much for your testimony.
Mr. Netburn, welcome.
STATEMENT OF MITCHELL NETBURN
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LOS ANGELES HOMELESS
SERVICES AUTHORITY, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Mr. Netburn. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Senator Dodd,
and Senator Collins.
My name is Mitchell Netburn and I am the Executive Director
of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority known as LAHSA.
We are honored you have invited us to testify in support of the
reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
LAHSA is a joint powers authority of the city and county of
Los Angeles. It was founded in 1993 and is governed by a 10
member commission appointed by the Los Angeles County
Supervisors and the Mayor.
LAHSA has been the lead coordinator for the Nation's second
largest Continuum of Care system. Prior to the establishment of
LAHSA, there had been little local coordination of funding for
homeless housing and services. The Continuum of Care
requirements enabled LAHSA to vigorously pursue a regional
approach to addressing homelessness. This is critical,
especially given the geography covered by our Continuum--4,000
square miles--and the
extreme differences across our county. Moreover, the county
encompasses 88 jurisdictions, including 34 entitlement cities.
We are proud of our collaborative efforts to prevent and
address homelessness and support reauthorization of the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to codify the Continuum
Regarding Los Angeles County, the most commonly used
estimate indicates that there are 84,000 men, women, and
children homeless on any given night. A more recent county
survey found that 375,000 adults experienced homelessness in
the previous 5 years. While many of these persons doubled up in
someone else's home, up to half resorted to staying on the
streets or in shelters.
Since 1995, the Los Angeles Continuum of Care has received
over $325 million through the McKinney-Vento Act. In the last
year alone, these funds provided services to over 63,000
homeless men, women, and children. This funding has enabled
localities to leverage millions of dollars in private funding
and investment, while also contributing to the quality of life
and the aesthetic
improvement of many neighborhoods.
Notwithstanding this significant level of Federal support
for homeless persons, we face some very real challenges to
ending homelessness. Los Angeles County is reporting that
despite a 3.5 percent drop in unemployment since 1990, poverty
has increased by 46 percent. These conditions have fueled
greater demand for homeless services even before the local
economy began to experience general economic hardship since
Within the city of Los Angeles, there is a 3.5 percent
rental housing vacancy rate. Not only does this mean a tighter
housing market for low-income renters, but also those who are
fortunate enough to receive a Section 8 voucher are finding
fewer and fewer landlords willing to rent to them. The city's
Housing Authority reports that only 41 percent of households
issued vouchers are able to use them, compared to over 90
percent just a few years ago. On a brighter note, the Los
Angeles City Council last week adopted the Mayor's plan for
establishing an annual $100 million trust fund. And this
November, voters in the State of California will likely have
opportunity to approve up to $2 billion in bond financing for
In reauthorizing the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance
Act, you have the opportunity to harness this momentum and
provide necessary Federal leadership.
In looking forward toward reauthorization, our experience
tells us that the collaborative, community-based process
generated by the Continuum of Care system does work. Our
system, as a whole, is more responsive to the needs of homeless
individuals and families, more vigorous and more integrated
because of the incentives created by the Continuum of Care to
engage in a broadly inclusive planning process, and to identify
the resources in mainstream systems that need to serve our
We respectfully offer the following recommendations. Keep
the program flexible. Every community has different
circumstances that call for different approaches to addressing
homelessness. The strength of the existing system is that it
allows localities to determine the best use of funding to meet
the local needs of homeless individuals and families. By
allowing localities to decide who is best suited to lead the
planning effort and apply for funding, we avoid the
difficulties that often occur when disinterested entities are
the appointed recipients of funding.
Ensure Federal coordination of homeless programs by
locating the Interagency Council on Homelessness in the White
Domestic Policy Office. While nearly all of LAHSA's funding for
homeless programs originates in HUD, many of the homeless
housing and service agencies that we fund are also funded by
other Federal Departments, including the Departments of
Veterans' Affairs, Health and Human Services, Labor, and
Education. Coordination of funding and programs could be
furthered by having a centralized presence in the White House
to oversee a national plan to prevent and end homelessness.
Lift the cash match requirements for permanent housing.
Developers in our system have reported that the 25 percent cash
match requirement hampers their efforts to use this program.
Although new sources of local funding are on the horizon,
securing and documenting the cash match for this process is not
always feasible. This in turn inhibits development of the
permanent affordable housing we so desperately need to end
Move the renewal of Shelter Plus Care and Supportive
Housing Program Permanent Housing Contracts to the Housing
Certificate Fund. By the time these programs are ready to
renew, they have demonstrated their effectiveness and the
tenants in the programs are no longer homeless. Therefore, we
urge you to consider these renewing programs as mainstream,
thereby allowing renewals to be funded from a mainstream
Provide for Homeless Management Information Systems
funding. Several years ago, Congress wisely directed HUD to
implementing such a system. However, this entails considerable
cost. We look to you to ensure that the HMIS requirement will
not be an unfunded mandate.
And last, retain the competitive process for homeless
services funding. While administering an annual competition
does consume significant local resources, the system is better
for it, particularly if it is performance-based. The current
process is a catalyst that empowers us to work closely with a
broad range of stakeholders, including homeless and formerly
homeless persons, agencies from our 31 entitlement cities, our
housing authorities, and our county administered housing,
health, and welfare systems. Therefore, LAHSA has historically
opposed the block granting of Federal homeless assistance
Thank you for this opportunity to share the experiences of
Los Angeles County and our suggestions for improving the
existing legislation. The Los Angeles Homeless Services
Authority strongly supports your efforts to reauthorize the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act so we will have the
critical resources and Federal leadership necessary to prevent
and end homelessness.
Senator Reed. Thank you very much, Mr. Netburn.
I would like to recognize Ms. Gleason for her statement,
and thank her for her help to my staff on the drafting of this
legislation that we are talking about this afternoon.
STATEMENT OF MARY ANN GLEASON
DIRECTOR, YORK COUNTY INITIATIVE
TO END HOMELESSNESS, ALFRED, MAINE
Ms. Gleason. Good afternoon, and thank you, Senator Reed,
for your kind invitation to appear before the Subcommittee, and
you, Senator Collins, for your gracious introduction, and most
especially for your wonderful leadership on homeless issues,
particularly on ensuring the passage and expansion of the
Grants To Benefit Homeless Individuals.
It is a critical step in further involving Health and Human
Services in providing services and moving HUD therefore out of
that provision. It has been critical, and we really appreciate
it very much. I began working with HUD's Homeless Assistance
Programs in 1987. It pains me that 15 years later this national
issue of grave concern continues and grows.
In Maine, the number of admissions into our shelters grew
by 51 percent over the last 4 years. Thirty-two percent of
those who become homeless in our State are families; 11 percent
are youth; 13 percent are veterans; 37 percent are employed.
Nearly 45 percent are challenged by disabilities. Twelve
percent have attended at least a year of college and, in
Portland, 29 percent have either graduated from or at least
attended college. The average monthly income, however, of
shelter residents in Maine is $240. It is also important to
know that 68 percent of those who entered the shelters were
homeless in some other form prior to doing so, and prior,
therefore, to being counted. They were doubled or tripled up
with friends or relatives, living in motels, cars, tents,
speaking loudly to us of how many more live so close to the
edge that simply doing shelter or street counts cannot tell us
the scope of the problem.
Since passage of the McKinney bill in Rhode Island, Maine,
Connecticut, Colorado, and every other State, we have had
recipients of HUD homeless assistance funds that have supported
the development of many highly effective programs that not only
allowed us to redress homelessness for the individuals who
suffer it, but also serve as models for addressing the holistic
needs of very vulnerable families and individuals throughout
our Nation. In Denver, McKinney funds helped renovate a portion
of 92 rental housing units, half of which were no longer
liveable and contributed to the increasing blight and crime in
the neighborhood. Having significantly
upgraded the community's self-regard, these units now provide
permanent housing shared by persons who are challenged by
mental illness who had lived on the streets for years of their
lives, high-tech employees, factory workers, other families,
and individuals of mixed incomes in an integrated model we can
all feel good about. In another, new construction of a complex
of permanent affordable housing units for diverse populations
includes a child care center used by the broader neighborhood
of homeowners, as well as children homeless in the recent past.
In Maine, we are developing housing on an organic farm for
late-stage alcoholics who have
become homeless to bring meaning and hope back to their lives,
and to provide vegetables and herbs for the bakery and catering
service where shelter residents can develop skills in culinary
arts from a terrific chef. In Columbus, the housing first model
moves families out of shelters within 2 weeks and into
permanent housing with transitional services, so they can
quickly be reintegrated into the larger society. Developed now
in a large number States, highly efficacious supportive housing
programs also provide employment opportunities for persons with
disabilities that help them feel good again and whole. For
families who suffer domestic violence and consequent
homelessness, we are designing a cohousing model to create the
sense of community that September 11 taught us is America at
her best. Nationally, HUD's McKinney programs have had a
positive impact in every State in the Union. The diversity of
local responses has resulted in significant cross-fertilization
of good ideas and best practices.
Having read a draft of your bill, Senator Reed, I am
delighted to say it builds on much that is highly effective in
HUD McKinney programs and improves elements needing such. I
will mention a few. One, it consolidates the separate McKinney
programs and eliminates the constraints they imposed to
maximize flexibility, creativity, and local decisionmaking.
Two, it provides funding for the first time for permanent
housing for nondisabled homeless families. Three, it removes
the caps on funding for transitional and permanent housing to
move more realistically to reflect the cost of housing
construction and renovation at the diversity of localities in
our States. Four, it provides some financial incentives to help
build the funding capacity of nonprofits so they can create
housing stock for those poorest among us that other Federal
housing programs keep moving away from. Five, it requires
limited and appropriate Federal oversight to ensure that the
Federal Government does not abnegate its rightful role to
effectively address the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.
Sixth, it brings to the table both targeted homeless and
mainstream program recipients, public and private, to
collaborate their planning, implementation, and evaluation
activities in order to utilize available resources in a manner
that can maximize outcome effectiveness, reduce duplication,
and reverse policies and procedures that unintentionally either
stimulate or prolong homelessness. Seventh, it places the
responsibility for interagency collaboration at the Federal
level in the hands of the Domestic Policy Council, as you
mentioned, within the Office of the President, which we
desperately need to help ensure that each Federal agency
assumes their responsibility for preventing and ending
homelessness using the resources under their administration.
Eighth, it reduces HUD funding for services 3 years after
enactment of the bill in order to ensure and give Congress and
Administration an opportunity to increase those resources from
the appropriate Departments: HHS, DOL, DOT, VA, to mention a
Talking about ending homelessness is actually a dialogue
about deeper, broader issues that narrow into the topic of
homelessness, which is too easily dismissed, is neither
accurate nor informed. It is a dialogue about the lack of
opportunity for housing stability, an essential condition for
family health and well being, retaining steady employment and
employees, children succeeding in school, neighborhoods
retaining their quality and safety, disabled and
elderly persons living as full and dignified a life as
Ending homelessness is about finally reckoning with the
unfinished business of deinstitutionalization, ensuring that
community-based housing--treatment and support services are
available and affordable. It is a dialogue about welfare reform
whose enlightened purpose would be economic viability for the
participating families, not falling backward by moving them off
the roles but into either hidden or blatant homelessness.
Ending homelessness is a dialogue about recipients of Federal
block grants that fund behavioral health care, not being held
accountable for the poorest and most vulnerable of their target
populations. It is a dialogue about wages and cash assistance
benefits that still remain remarkably disproportionate to the
cost of housing and other basic needs. We can respond in one of
two ways. We can either increase income levels so housing is
affordable at whatever costs the market requires, or we can
significantly increase the public investment in producing and
sustaining affordable housing. Doing neither is a prescription
for protracted homelessness. Housing policy in America is
primarily investment policy, an approach that is simply
inadequate to meeting the housing needs of the disabled person
whose annual SSI income is $6,000 a year, or a full-time worker
earning even $7 an hour. Ending homelessness is actually about
producing housing and not simply continuing to talk about
producing housing. It is about only 36,000 new housing vouchers
being proposed nationwide for 2003, when in one city alone,
there are 150,000 eligible households on the waiting list. And
finally, homelessness is about a shredded and shameful safety
net, including the lack of health care, in a Nation blessed
with both the resources and the ingenuity to be fairer than
that. I look at the weight of poverty, and the burden of
disregard that homelessness represents and wonder how, having
so much, we have come so far from what is just and right.
In conclusion, we suggest these broader issues that form
the structural underpinnings of homelessness must be addressed
through omnibus legislation, as you have suggested, similar to
but broader than the original McKinney legislation. We would be
delighted to help you pursue such legislation replicating the
highly collaborative process that resulted in the Community
Partnership to End Homelessness Act of 2002.
Thank you for listening, and for your thoughtful leadership
Senator Reed. Thank you very much.
That was compelling testimony of all the witnesses. Thank
you so much.
I would like to turn to Senator Collins and recognize her
for her comments, and thank her because I believe you are going
to be a cosponsor?
Senator Collins. Yes.
Senator Reed. She is a very wise and brilliant Senator. She
is a cosponsor already.
Senator Reed. Senator Collins.
Senator Collins. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for
your graciousness in accommodating my schedule this afternoon.
Ms. Gleason, when I heard your description of the homeless
individuals and population in Maine, it was a very useful
reminder to us that the lack of affordable housing,
particularly in areas of our State like Portland, can cause
people who never dreamed that they would be in a situation of
not being able to afford an apartment to become homeless; that
it is a shock for many to find themselves in that situation.
You also gave us a useful reminder of how many of the
clients served in Maine have families; that it is not just the
single individual, but it may be a mother with children, or a
father with children. I think that is a really important
reminder to us, as well.
Senator Reed and I have collaborated together to try to
designate more funding to go for substance abuse programs to
assist in providing services to individuals who find themselves
as homeless and are battling a drug or alcohol addiction. And
indeed, from what I have learned from working with you and
others in Maine, often many of your clients also have problems
with substance abuse.
I would like to ask each of you, starting with Ms. Gleason,
how we can better integrate services such as substance abuse
counseling with providing shelter, as well. And, similarly, how
can we ensure that job training and other skills that can help
an individual put homelessness behind himself or herself, how
can we do a better job of integrating those kinds of programs
into the programs that meet the housing needs of individuals?
Ms. Gleason. Thank you for your question. It is an
important one. I actually think the reason that pursuing
omnibus legislation is so important is because we currently do
not have the resources either within HUD or the appropriate
oversight. I mean the truth is that HUD, as wonderful as they
are, does not have the level of skill to provide oversight to
mental health and substance abuse programs that is in HHS. So
it is really critical.
One of the things we keep missing is that if we try to
provide substance abuse services to people while they are still
homeless, it is very compromised.
Residentially based treatment programs are so critical. In
our State there is a dramatic number, I believe 75 percent, of
people who need substance abuse treatment that do not have
access to it because the resources are so small. But
unfortunately we keep spending them in hospital detoxification
programs. So, we spend the money. This is the funny thing in
America. We spend the money just in the wrong place at the
wrong time, and it costs too much because of that. If we were
able to create residentially based treatment programs, I think
it would be much wiser for us than the current way we are
trying to do it.
Senator Collins. Thank you. Mr. Netburn.
Mr. Netburn. I would certainly agree with that comment. Los
Angeles has been a strong leader in supporting the Housing
First Model on the theory that you need to stabilize people in
housing and then wrap around the support services, and only in
that way will you actually adequately address the underlying
causes of homelessness. So, I think that is critical to focus
on the whole concept of supportive permanent housing.
I think there are--as I just talked about--a lot of
services, a lot of HUD's dollars going for services, and we
need to look for other agencies to increase their support.
One of the concerns we all have, regarding to the
additional focus on housing, is whether the other agencies will
actually increase their budgets as they ``mainstream'' the
homeless population. That will be critical to ensure that high
level of services that are needed for that population are
Also, I think putting the Interagency Council on
Homelessness within the White House will help integrate
services and ensure that all the appropriate services from
substance abuse, mental
illness, job training, et cetera, are provided to homeless
individuals and families.
Senator Collins. Thank you.
Ms. Roman. I would concur with my colleagues. I think on a
National level, half of the people who ask for substance abuse
treatment cannot get it. So that has to be reckoned with.
Also, I would concur with the other two panelists that
services are more effective once people are in permanent
housing than when they are in either shelter or transitional
I would add that most shelter programs and transitional
programs have sobriety requirements, so they are essentially
asking people to get sober before they can come in the door.
That is something we need to look at, too. We need entry level
programs with a low threshold. Once people are engaged we can
provide them with what they need in order to achieve sobriety.
Senator Collins. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, let me thank you again for your leadership.
We are very fortunate here in the Senate to have Senator Reed
as the leader on these issues. He is an individual of great
compassion and knowledge, and I am confident that under his
leadership we are really going to make a difference. So thank
you for being here, and thank you for letting me participate.
Senator Reed. Thank you, Senator Collins.
Senator Dodd is going to return, and I will leave, at least
for the moment, the questions about block grants to him. He
expressed an interest in asking those questions.
First, again let me thank you all for this informed
testimony. Let me underscore ``informed.'' The experience at
this witness table is very impressive, people who have been
running programs in challenging cities like New York City and
Los Angeles. In Maine where it is a different environment, and
Nan's leadership nationally on homelessness is extremely
commendable. Thank you all.
Let me go to a couple of specific points. One is that I
think, Mr. Netburn, you commented on this but I would like
respond. The legislation we are proposing would have a 30
percent setaside for permanent support in housing. Also, it
would move the renewal grants for the Shelter Plus Care and
permanent housing components of SHP to the Housing Certificate
Fund. Can you comment upon the importance of this and the
criticality of this? Maybe we will go right down the line. Nan,
do you have a comment?
Ms. Roman. Certainly. These provisions are critically
important if we are to make progress. Theoretically, we could
also do Permanent Supportive Housing through the mainstream
programs. But this is not happening.
I think the SRO, Shelter Plus Care, and SHP Programs were
inserted into the McKinney Act fairly early in its history.
There is a lot of capacity that has been developed through
these programs to deliver premanent supportive housing.
So our feeling is, if we have a proportional amount of
money being spent on permanent supportive housing for the
chronically homeless population, over time we could get enough
units to end chronic homelessness, even with the resources we
currently have. And we think 30 percent is the correct
percentage, if the housing subsidies are renewed elsewhere.
I think Mitchell said, very accurately, that it is peculiar
that we require people who have the most serious housing needs
to have their housing subsidies renewed through a competition,
whereas everyone else has their housing assistance renewed more
or less automatically.
Authorizing these permanent supportive housing activities
you have described would allow us over time to create enough
supportive housing to address the issue of chronic
homelessness. We think that the cost of that after 10 years--
you asked about cost during the earlier panel----
Senator Reed. Yes.
Ms. Roman. --would be slightly in excess of a billion
dollars, if I recall properly, just for the housing. Then we
will also have to obtain the service financing because there is
no money at HUD to do service financing. So, we have to get HHS
to the table.
But it is important to note that many of these costs will
be offset, as the New York City study shows us, by savings to
public systems on the emergency side.
Senator Reed. Before we move on, Nan, just a comment about
the question I posed to the Secretary about the 10 year budget
forecast. This budget that has been submitted, if it does not
change, is that sufficient to get us where we want to be?
Ms. Roman. No. You could take the renewals for permanent
housing out of the existing program, but you would have to do
it at the expense of serving the other 80 percent of people who
are not chronically homeless or disabled.
The idea is to get the chronically homeless people into
permanent supported housing and free up resources so you can do
better by the other people, the 80 percent, not cut the 80
percent off from services entirely. The fiscal year 2003 HUD
budget has not
addressed this. And I would also say, although I think that the
Secretary was right in pointing out the need to shift some of
HUD's service spending into HHS, HHS's budget did not reflect
increased need for services from that Department, either. So
the need was not addressed in the budget.
Senator Reed. Mitchell, do you have a comment? Because you
raised this issue.
Mr. Netburn. Just as you stated, in my testimony I said I
think it is critical to shift that funding into the mainstream
systems. Two additional points I would make is that, first, by
doing that it also encourages more developers to actually
develop this type of housing, because there is a more
guaranteed funding stream and they can use that to secure loans
and the like. So that is critical.
Second, which is what Nan just touched upon, is that there
is a lot of needed focus on that 20 percent, but there is that
other large percentage of people who are temporarily homeless.
Increasingly in Los Angeles, and it is certainly a national
trend, there are increasing numbers of families, and
particularly single women and women with children, and so
mainstreaming services would free up the funds to address these
The reality is, we have seen it in Los Angeles, and I saw
it in New York, and I am sure it exists in other jurisdictions,
that as the programs come up for renewals those burdens become
very high and there is very little money available for new
programs. So this would allow new programs to target the new
Senator Reed. As I understand your comments, there is a
certain irony here because people have been placed in shelter
and they are successfully living there, and yet you have to go
and renew them as if they were part of the homeless program,
when in fact they have a home.
Mr. Netburn. That is true. It is an irony. And, you know,
HUD, and rightfully so, has particularly in the last couple of
focused a lot on having agencies document homelessness, so that
these funds should be targeting homeless people. Well, once
they are in permanent housing, they are not homeless. So it is
Senator Reed. And as you are more successful, the margin
for reaching additional homeless people diminishes because you
have the trail of the legacy of your success in the past. Is
Mr. Netburn. Exactly. HUD itself has raised the
possibility, not this year but in the coming year, that there
might not be enough money nationally to renew all the renewals.
For the first time ever they may not be able to fund all the
renewals. We are certainly seeing that locally, and from HUD
there is also a national trend.
Senator Reed. Mary Ann, do you have a comment?
Ms. Gleason. Yes. What the policy does is it actually
allows the Federal Government to do the same thing they are
asking the State and local governments to do, and the
nonprofits, which is to utilize mainstream resources to serve
the needs of homeless people.
The mainstream resources at the Federal level is the
Housing Certificate Fund. So basically all we are doing, we are
asking the Federal Government to do the same thing we have
asked every other level of government to do. It is totally
appropriate, especially because we know most of the recipients
of these services are absolutely eligible for Section 8
They needed some weaning back into stability that the
homeless programs were able to do. Now, we simply need to move
them into the mainstream resources. That is the housing
resource that we have.
Senator Reed. One final question before I recognize Senator
Dodd. We have reserved the topic of block grants for you,
Senator. You won the toss-up previously.
One of the major points of conceptual agreement is we have
to get into prevention rather than simply responding. Just
quick thoughts on how we move the focus from responding to
prevention. Nan, your thoughts, and then down the panel.
Ms. Roman. Well, the draft bill has some good emphasis on
that in terms of emergency prevention--that is, rent
assistance, and mortgage assistance--but the more significant
thing is the fact that these other mainstream programs are
discharging so many people into the homeless system. How do you
Obviously, you cannot do that with this bill. We think that
TANF is a good example. Even though everyone believes TANF has
been a success, there are people who are being sanctioned or
removed from TANF who are ending up in the homeless system. If
the welfare system was more attentive to people's housing
status and had more responsibility for stable housing, for
example, that would be a way to prevent homelessness.
Similarly in HHS, the mental health and substance abuse
block grants and other service programs could look more
carefully at housing. They used to, before there was a homeless
responsible for housing for people with mental illness and
other disabilities. Now there is a homeless system and they
have shifted responsibility for housing to the homeless system.
So, we need to push back up against those systems. Everyone
has mentioned that we need to do omnibus legislation, and such
legislation is where we should focus our prevention efforts.
Senator Reed. Thank you. Mr. Netburn.
Mr. Netburn. I would just add, preventing eviction is
critical. Somehow it is often looked at as somewhat dubious and
there are concerns for fraud and the like, but with some
oversight we can have programs that work.
Not only do you prevent the homelessness, but sometimes
when somebody becomes temporarily homeless, if they have just
been evicted from their apartment, it sets a whole cycle in
place. And sometimes it is very hard to get that person very
quickly back into housing. So it is so much more cost effective
and more humane to keep them in the housing where they are
especially for the stability of children with schools and the
In addition, some of the underlying causes of homelessness
occur before somebody became homeless. So the idea is to make
sure that there is treatment upon demand, things like that,
rather than getting to the stage where somebody has lost their
home due to substance abuse, mental illness, some other issue,
and then relying on the whole homeless system to take care of
And last, I cannot stress enough Nan's point about closing
the front door. What has really happened in this country is
that the homeless systems have really become the last resort
for people who really should be served by many other systems,
including everything from hospitals to correctional facilities,
to mental health
institutions, and the like. People have all been dumped, to use
that word, into the homeless system. And it is not necessarily
the appropriate place for many of those individuals, and we
should really focus the resources on those who are homeless.
Senator Reed. Thank you.
Ms. Gleason. One of the things that your bill does that I
think is very important is that it moves prevention activities
into the collaborative planning process, which it has not been
previously. I think that is going to go a long way to actually
encouraging local communities to build prevention efforts into
I am so delighted that you are Chair of this Subcommittee,
Senator Reed, because it is so important that we formulate
housing policy in America that really does ensure that the
lowest income population has what they need. We have done it
with Medicaid. We need to do it with housing.
Senator Reed. Thank you very much.
Senator Dodd. Thank you, very much.
I apologize for stepping out. The Former President of
Trinity College in Hartford is now President of the University
of Hawaii and happened to be visiting. So he came over and I
stepped out to talk with him. I apologize for walking out in
the middle of the hearing.
Again, to Jack Reed, I was struck, in fact, I was saying to
President Dovelle out here, how important this hearing.
Here we are talking about a million people in our country,
as many as a quarter of that population are children, living in
these conditions. Your presence here, knowledgeable people,
working at this. You know, the lights and cameras show up here
for somebody to plead the Fifth Amendment in the Enron case,
but we cannot get people to show up to pay attention, other
than the wonderful people who are in the room here, to care
about it. They are never here and never can come. This is a
constituency that can never be here. We normally have a hearing
about some subject matter, and those who would be affected by
it pack the room, line the halls, show up on the Mall, do all
sorts of things. The homeless cannot. They are never going to
come down here and lobby. We do not know where to go to meet
them. They do not have a lunch for us. They do not have a
dinner for us. They do not give out awards to get us to come.
So it takes someone with the intestinal fortitude and the heart
of a Jack Reed to carry the ball. And I am going to do
everything I can to help him----
Senator Reed. Thank you.
Senator Dodd. --as a senior Member of this Subcommittee to
see that we get the job done.
Are you teasing me about the block grants?
Senator Reed. I am not.
Senator Dodd. Okay. I was out of the room and I thought you
were pulling my leg.
Senator Reed. I'd never do that, Senator. It is your
Senator Dodd. Because this is such a big issue here, how
this gets handled right. I am so impressed with the notion of
the Continuum of Care concept and how well that has worked.
I want to ask each of you, and particularly because I know
in Los Angeles county, as opposed to the city, they have
opposed the block grant approach. There is a lot of
attractiveness to block grants.
You do not want to take the view, because there are
circumstances when a block grant makes sense. It is certainly a
lot more efficient, and you can get dollars in some ways in a
whole area that could be worthwhile.
But my concern here, would be because this really does lace
together so many different entities to serve the multiple needs
of a very complicated constituency, and that you start, if you
block grant my fear would be--and there is a big question mark
here, okay--that when you do that, you run the risk of breaking
Now maybe there is some way to do this a bit differently
where, maybe you could block grant the Federal level somehow.
But then when it gets down to the State or the local level, you
would make it work differently.
Anyway, I know in Los Angeles they have opposed this. So, I
will lead with you, since I know where you are going to stand--
Mr. Netburn. Yes.
Senator Dodd. --then go to your two colleagues on either
Mr. Netburn. We do oppose it. You know, it was mentioned by
the Administration that over 90 percent of the country is now
covered by a Continuum of Care. There has been universal
agreement that it is a system that works and works very well.
So we certainly want to maintain that. Frankly, having the
competitive process really enables us to bring all different
parties to the table.
Senator Dodd. The best ones win. They do. It is really
Mr. Netburn. It does. Also it is effective in getting the
cities to participate which is not always easy. Everybody has
competing time interests. Some cities do not want to admit they
have a homeless problem. But knowing that the funding is
somewhat dependent upon their being at the table, bringing
resources to the table, being a part of the planning process
really operates as a carrot-type
incentive. It really brings them. And then we get a better plan
because of that, and particularly in a county the size of Los
Angeles. We have 88 different entities to deal with. It is the
largest urban county in the country.
We cringe in fear of the idea of, depending how the block
grant might go, funds going to each one of the entitlement
cities, having to enter into separate agreements with over 30
of them; the possibility that you would have duplication of
services; the loss of planning that has taken place due to the
Continuum of Care process.
And, frankly, we think a competitive process does bring
communities together to put their best proposals forth, and we
One of the things the Administration was talking about was
the process taking a long time. I think there is something in
between. The 18 months can be cut down. And I also would be
concerned about the 18 months, if this was a brand new program
we were talking about and we are all sitting here saying, well,
we are not going to get money for 18 months.
The reality is, we are all on our annual cycles, and so it
is not as though this is preventing us from providing services
today. We know when that money is coming forward. And so
definitely we do oppose the block grant of the funds.
I believe this begins Senator Dodd's statements. It would
be very helpful--and I want to hear the two other witnesses--if
you might lay that out a little bit to us for the Subcommittee.
I would ask consent, Mr. Chairman, that specifically the
problems that you would have--now Los Angeles is a huge urban
area, and obviously small areas may have a different reaction--
but I think what you just said could be very valuable for
Members of the Subcommittee as we look at this, why this is not
some ideological reaction. It is a question of how it works. If
you are going to have the program--and I presume most people
are going to support the program--then you want it to work
well. And you want it to serve the people it is designed to
help. If you are going to somehow break up the system that
delivers the service the best, then Members here should know
what the implications are because the block grant has turned
into this partisan liberal/conservative battleground, and we
really need to get away from that.
We have to decide in certain cases block grants work very
well. In some cases they do not. We should be able to make that
distinction when it occurs, and by giving us more detailed
information about why this would not work here, not for some
reason but very practical reasons, I think could be
tremendously helpful to the Subcommittee.
Mr. Netburn. Sure. We would welcome that opportunity.
Senator Reed. Ms. Gleason, your thoughts.
Ms. Gleason. Well, two of those practical things. One is
that it would interrupt the multijurisdictional and regional
planning that has been going on in many communities, certainly
in the way the block grant had been proposed in the past. And
we do not have any idea of any other formula. So that is the
only thing we can assume. But that would definitely interrupt
those multijurisdictional efforts, and those are so critical to
being able to effectively reduce and end homelessness.
Two is, personally, I just think it is a distraction from
the progress we have been really making well, and we do not
need this distraction at this point. Because the truth is,
people have a pro rata share now. This is a modified block
grant, as far as I am concerned. That is what this proposal is.
So it is the best of both worlds, in my mind, because it is
a modified pro rata share. There is predictability there. The
argument about predictability really I do not think is very
valid because of the pro rata formulas that we use right now.
Also, I would say there are many communities that would
suffer financially from this. In Maine, we would suffer the
loss of well over $2 million that we really cannot afford to
do. So there is definitely financial impact from it, as well.
Another thing I want to mention that worries me terribly is
the institutionalization of homelessness. You know, you give
people block grants. You say, you know what? We are not going
to solve this. We are going to perpetuate it, and potentially
prolong it by giving block grants to communities. And that I
worry about, and I worry about the local politics, because NMBE
is alive and well across the United States. If we do not have
somebody like the Federal Government paying attention to what
is happening, if we give all the power and money to the
localities in the States, I worry about the expansion of NMBE
and the use of that money in ways that unintentionally maybe or
intentionally perpetuate NMBE.
Senator Dodd. It also helps a lot of good people at the
local level, as well. I mean it is how the International
Monetary Fund works, where they set up the rules to countries.
They tell them how they are going to manage things. Then they
blame locally the IMF for doing it. They understand why it has
to be done locally, but they blame. So, we become a good foil
in a sense----
Ms. Gleason. Yes.
Senator Dodd. --where people who would like to see us do
these things and say that the Federal Government made us do it.
Ms. Gleason. Right.
Senator Dodd. Yes, Ms. Roman.
Ms. Roman. Well, I agree with the argument about
institutionalization, although I will say that HUD has
indictated its intention to link funding to outcomes, and it is
possible that there is a way to front load a performance basis
onto a block grant. Essentially that is what the Continuum of
Care is. From our point of view we really do not have a
particular interest for or against block grants, but we have an
interest in ending homelessness.
Block granting is really an administrative issue. As
Mitchell said, the money goes out to communities now. Once a
year they get their allocation. They spend it. And no matter
how we alter the
administration, communities are still going to get their money
once a year. It is not going to matter to a homeless person how
the money goes out administratively.
I have not heard any serious complaints about the way the
money goes out now. It might be possible to look at
administrative improvements such as a 2 year application so
communities would not have to go through so much process just
for renewals. So, we would not have to do the whole Continuum
every year; maybe we could do a 2 year cycle. There would be
But I really prefer the approach that Senator Reed has
taken in his bill, which is just to tidy up the existing
system; simplify the programs; consolidate the programs; but
If we block grant, we are going to spend a year arguing
about whether or not to block grant. Then another 2 years
having communities get up to speed on how to use this new
system. We will be 3 years behind. It will have no impact on
outcomes for homeless people, or on ending homelessness. Zero.
We will just be 3 years farther along without having made any
progress. I would much rather spend the next 3 years trying to
get an omnibus bill that looks at HHS resources, VA, Education,
and gets us somewhere.
I just do not see block granting as really impacting
outcomes or ending homelessness. I see it as an administrative
matter that may improve administration of the program at HUD.
It will make it easier for HUD to administer, to block grant.
That is about all I could say for it.
Senator Dodd. It sounds like what I hear from all three of
you is what Senator Reed has put together makes sense?
Ms. Roman. To me it does, yes.
Mr. Netburn. Absolutely.
Senator Dodd. And I guess that suggests block granting at
the Federal level by consolidation of programs and then
allowing the Continuum of Care concept to work at the local
level. That is the hybrid you are suggesting.
Ms. Gleason. I was just going to say, certainly in my
conversations with HUD I believe that Senator Reed and his bill
is very close to the goals they want to reach, as well. I
honestly do. So some conversations between this Committee,
Senator Reed, Secretary Martinez, and other people at HUD would
really just push us along. Because I honestly believe there are
a lot of mutual goals.
Senator Dodd. I should mention, he was not here, but I
think very highly of Secretary Martinez.
Ms. Gleason. Right.
Senator Dodd. He was a local official in the Orlando area.
He has a wonderful reputation as a developer in the private
sector. Then when he served on local planning boards and so
forth, he really had a wonderful record.
He is very forthcoming. He has actually been up to
Connecticut once, but we have tried to get him up to our area,
Jack, to come by, and we have other issues to address, housing
authority questions and so forth, but I think that is a good
suggestion, Ms. Gleason. And I am a strong supporter of what
Jack is trying to do, and I thank all three of you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Reed. Thank you very much, Senator Dodd, for your
questions. Let me conclude the hearing by thanking the
witnesses, all the witnesses, the Assistant Secretary and the
representatives of GAO, and our panel.
This is an issue that, as Ms. Gleason just said, seems to
have some emerging consensus and we are going to work to
translate that consensus into something palpable that will help
end homelessness, we hope within 10 years.
If there are any additional comments that you would like to
forward to us, do so quickly. If there are questions or
requests, as Senator Dodd made a request for additional
information, I would ask that you respond back to the Committee
within 2 weeks.
Thank you very much. This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:26 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
[Prepared statements and response to written questions
supplied for the record follow:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SENATOR SUSAN M. COLLINS
A U.S. Senator from the State of Maine
March 6, 2002
Mr. Chairman, thank you for allowing me to be here today to take
part in this constructive dialogue on the future of Federal housing and
homeless policies. Let me first express my appreciation for your
leadership and the work of Senator Allard to serve the homeless
population throughout the country.
I am pleased that the committee is working to reauthorize the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The programs authorized by the
Act have served the
citizens of Maine well, providing resources for shelters, new
construction, rehabilitation, prevention, and numerous support
services. Mr. Chairman, it has been a pleasure to work with you on
possibilities for a reauthorization proposal. I am hopeful that we can
reauthorize the program by the end of this Congress in a manner that
incorporates innovative approaches to improving the delivery of
services throughout the country. I appreciate your initiative and look
forward to continued collaboration.
We are fortunate to have a witness here today who has direct
experience with the Federal homelessness programs at the local level
and has done a tremendous job with the programs in Maine. It is my
pleasure to introduce one of the Nation's foremost advocates on behalf
of homeless individuals, Mary Ann Gleason. Ms. Gleason worked here in
Washington for a number of years as the Executive Director of the
National Coalition for the Homeless, where she worked with Members of
Congress, the Administration, and Federal agencies to advocate for a
public policy that expanded and better utilized Federal resources to
prevent and address homelessness.
To the delight of those of us in Maine, Ms. Gleason decided to
return to the front line in 2001 and became the Director of the York
County Initiative to End Homelessness. In that capacity, she has worked
to promote both policy and attitudinal change throughout the State. Her
commitment and dedication to combating homelessness in Maine have had
an immense impact on the success of our system, and her work is to be
Aside from her duties with York County, Ms. Gleason has also found
time to act as the Chair of the Monitoring and Evaluation Subcommittee
on the Maine Homeless Assistance Planning and Advisory Committee, and
she has been a member of the Maine Affordable Housing Bond Issue
Steering Committee. As we can see by her presence here today and her
numerous appearances before Congressional committees, Ms. Gleason
continues to take an active role in Federal policy, and we are the
richer for her efforts. Ms. Gleason, thank you for being here today and
for all of the work you do in Maine. I look forward to hearing your
PREPARED STATEMENT OF NAN P. ROMAN
President, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Washington, DC
March 6, 2002
Mr. Chairman, Senator Allard, and Members of the Subcommittee, on
behalf of our Board of Directors and partners, I am honored that you
have invited the
National Alliance to End Homelessness to testify before you today on
reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act housing
programs and on how these programs can be better used to make progress
in the struggle to end homelessness in the Nation. The National
Alliance to End Homelessness is convinced that not only could our
Nation do a better job of helping homeless people, but also that ending
homelessness is well within our reach. We very much appreciate the
Subcommittee's history of accomplishment toward this goal. We are
particularly grateful for Chairman Reed's recent work to draft a bill,
provisionally entitled the ``Community Homeless Assistance Act of
2002,'' that will take a critically important step in improving
homeless assistance by simplifying and codifying the largest Federal
homeless program--the HUD Homeless Assistance Grant Program.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan,
nonprofit organization that was founded in 1983 by a group of leaders
deeply disturbed by the emergence of a new social phenomenon--thousands
of Americans living on the streets. It is important to remember that
prior to the 1980's, there was not widespread homelessness in the
Nation. While there were certainly problems such as mental illness,
drug abuse, and deep and pervasive poverty, people experiencing these
problems were able to find a place to live. But then the seeds of
deinstitutionalization, loss of affordable housing stock, destruction
of a million units of single-room occupancy housing, new kinds of
illegal drugs and an increase in poor, single parent households began
to take root. In the 1980's, they grew into homelessness. The absence
of widespread homelessness before the 1980's is a reminder that
homelessness is not inevitable. It has not always existed, and it does
not have to exist now.
From its founding in 1983, the focus of the National Alliance to
End Homelessness (the Alliance) has shifted as the problem of
homelessness and our knowledge about it have changed. Once focused on
food and shelter, today the Alliance and its nonprofit, public sector,
and corporate partners in every State in the Nation are
focused on permanent solutions to homelessness.
I am grateful to you for holding this hearing today. It is time to
look at the effectiveness of our homeless assistance programs and to
make the necessary adjustments to ensure that they have the best
possible outcomes. In doing this we must avoid the institutionalization
of a system, which can manage but cannot eliminate homelessness. We
must, instead, try to make progress toward an improved system that is
results- and outcome-oriented. The decisions that you will make about
reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act will affect which of these
two paths we, as a Nation, will travel.
Where We Stand on Homelessness
A recent Federal report, based upon the most extensive survey to
date of homeless assistance providers and their clients (conducted by
the U.S. Bureau of the Census) describes the situation. As of 1996
there were 40,000 programs to assist homeless people in the Nation.
This infrastructure of assistance has largely been formed in the past
15 years, stimulated and sustained in good part by Federal funding.
With an infrastructure of this size and complexity, one might expect
the size of the homelessness population to have been reduced over this
period of time. In fact, this is not the case. Despite the growing
infrastructure of assistance, between 1987 and 1996 the size of the
homeless population increased, from 2.5 to 3.5 million people per year.
Is homelessness growing because the homeless system is ineffective?
The answer is no. In fact, the homeless assistance system helps
hundreds of thousands of people to escape homelessness every year.
Indeed, it is becoming more effective. Through the Continuum of Care
process much progress has been made, and the vast majority of people
who become homeless exit the system relatively quickly and do not
return. For most individuals, the existing system does end
Yet, the homeless assistance system cannot end homelessness
overall, nor can it reduce the number of homeless people. This is
because it can neither prevent people from becoming homeless, nor
change the overall availability of housing, income, and services that
will truly end homelessness. In the final analysis, the homeless
assistance system cannot close the front door into homelessness, and it
cannot open the back door out of homelessness.
Mainstream social programs, on the other hand, do have the ability
to prevent and end homelessness. These are programs like welfare,
health care, mental health care, public housing, substance abuse
treatment, foster care, veterans assistance, and so on. However, these
programs are oversubscribed and underfunded. Increasingly, rather than
being a true safety net that prevents people from becoming homeless,
these mainstream systems shift the cost and responsibility for helping
the most vulnerable people to the homeless assistance system.
Perversely, the better the homeless system gets, the worse the
mainstream system gets.
So there is a very dysfunctional situation that is quickly becoming
institutionalized. There is a homelessness assistance system that
manages the problem but cannot solve it. There is a mainstream system
with far more resources that, instead of solving the problem, has more
incentive to shift cost and responsibility to the homeless system. If
this dynamic is not changed, homelessness will never go away. If this
approach to the problem is not altered, the American people will be
paying to support the current system forever.
How can this system be changed? Given that the draft bill addresses
only the HUD homelessness program, will it nevertheless help us make
progress toward ending homelessness?
To end homelessness, people will have to be prevented from becoming
homeless--the front door to homelessness will have to be closed. In
addition, those who are homeless will have to find somewhere to go when
they exit the system--the back door out of homelessness will have to be
opened. These are not unrealistic goals. They can be accomplished
within the current parameters of the mainstream and homeless systems.
To do so will require four steps. The National Alliance to End
Homelessness believes that by following this course, homelessness can
be ended in 10 years.
Planning to End Homelessness
First, jurisdictions and the Federal Government can plan to end,
not simply to manage, homelessness. A preliminary requirement is much
better data collection at the local level. Data can identify who is
homeless, why they are homeless, how they use the homeless and
mainstream systems, and what is effective in ending their homelessness.
Based on solid data, jurisdictions can begin a planning process that
brings homelessness experts, and mainstream programs and resources, to
the table with a goal of ending homelessness.
Closing the Front Door into Homelessness
Second, to prevent homelessness the mainstream programs must be
adjusted so that incentives favor helping the most vulnerable people
rather than shifting this responsibility to the homeless system.
Federally funded mental health, substance abuse, foster care and
veterans programs, as well as corrections are among those mainstream
programs whose clients often become homeless. Furthermore, these
systems provide inadequate assistance to people while they are
homeless. Ultimately, their performance must be improved if we are to
Opening the Back Door out of Homelessness
In terms of opening the back door, recent analysis of homelessness
has revealed that while most people (perhaps 80 percent) who become
homeless exit the system relatively quickly, the remaining 20 percent
has a much more troubled experience. Approximately 20 percent of the
homeless population (200,000 people) spends months, and even years,
homeless. This group is also chronically disabled. It might seem that
housing chronically homeless and chronically disabled people in shelter
is a cost effective way of providing assistance. It is not. A recent
exhaustive and groundbreaking study by the University of Pennsylvania
shows that a chronically homeless, mentally ill person living on the
streets of New York City exacts an annual public cost of approximately
$40,000. [This is because members of this group are high users of
hospital emergency and intensive care facilities, jails and prisons,
and mental health beds while homeless.] For nearly the same expenditure
on the part of public systems of care (around $41,000 per year) that
person can be provided with permanent supportive housing and services.
So how can the back door be opened more widely?
The 80 percent of the homeless population who exit the system
quickly (both families and single adults) initially entered the system
because they experienced a housing crisis that resulted in their
homelessness. Despite the near universal shortage of affordable housing
for poor people, they will find a way to house themselves. Since the
homeless system is unable to address the real cause of their problem--
the overall national shortage of affordable housing--its best course of
action is to facilitate their accommodation to this shortage and help
them make it more quickly. Accordingly, the Alliance recommends a
"housing first" approach for most homeless people--getting them quickly
back into housing and linking them with appropriate mainstream
services--thus reducing their stay in shelter or transitional housing
to an absolute minimum. Although people who become homeless certainly
need services, such services are most effective when delivered in
permanent housing, rather than while people are in unsettled, temporary
housing. (There are exceptions. For example, families fleeing a
domestic violence situation usually need a period of time in a
sheltered and secure environment. Families in which adult(s) are just
finishing treatment for substance abuse also need intermediate levels
of supportive housing.) Affordable housing is ultimately the solution
to homelessness for this group, and we encourage any and all efforts to
increase the supply of such housing. In the meantime, everything
possible should be done to minimize the duration of homelessness for
families and individuals.
For chronically homeless people, there is also an answer--permanent
supportive housing, usually preceded by outreach and sometimes by
intermediate treatment or housing. Such housing is over 80 percent
effective in achieving stability and is very cost effective.
Approximately 200,000 units of such housing would essentially eliminate
chronic homelessness, empty the system of those who live in it through
no choice of their own, and change the dynamic of homelessness. This
supply of permanent supportive housing could be achieved by retaining
the set-aside of 30 percent of the homeless funds for permanent
supportive housing. Further, it requires that the renewal funding for
these units (Shelter Plus Care and Supportive Housing--permanent
housing program, or any permanent housing) be shifted to Section 8.
Building the Infrastructure
Finally, while it is certainly true that the homeless assistance
system can shorten people's experience of homelessness, and that
mainstream programs can be better targeted so that clients and wards
are not vulnerable to housing crisis, ultimately this must be done in
the context of addressing the larger systemic causes of homelessness.
There is not enough affordable housing; earnings from employment and
benefits have not kept pace with the cost of housing for poor people;
and services that are needed for support and stability are not
available to extremely low-income people. Whatever is done must be done
in the context of addressing these underlying needs.
The Federal Role
In the view of the Alliance, any initiative to change Federal
homeless assistance programs should be measured against the goal of
helping the Nation to end homelessness. Does it facilitate better
planning to end homelessness? Does it help prevent people from becoming
homeless? Does it help create permanent housing? Does it encourage
greater responsibility of mainstream programs?
The bill Senator Reed has drafted does not presume to be able to
end homelessness. This is in its favor since it is unrealistic to
expect homeless programs to end homelessness on their own. The bill
does, however, tidy up the administration of the current system and
maximize the use of Federal resources to achieve positive outcomes. In
addition, it takes steps to compel action in mainstream programs that
will lead us down the road to ending homelessness. Following is an
evaluation of this proposal relative to its impact on ending
The draft bill creates a Community Homeless Assistance Planning
Board (the Board) that is made up of those who deliver and receive
homeless assistance, as well as the other significant sectors of the
community. This Board is charged with devising an outcome-oriented plan
to spend Federal resources, with developing long-term plans for
reducing and preventing homelessness in the jurisdiction, with
examining causes of homelessness, and with assessing and reporting on
the success of projects funded by the Act and also of the communities'
efforts to prevent and end homelessness. The goals of these planning
Boards are admirable, and as they mirror the current system of planning
and applying for Homeless Assistance Grants, they build upon existing
capacity. They press further, however, by requiring a more rigorous
outcome orientation and by requiring the community to look beyond the
homeless system for both the causes and solutions to homelessness.
Two improvements might be suggested in this area. First, without
comprehensive administrative data systems that can examine how clients
and tenants use the homeless system over time, from where they come,
and to where they go, communities are unlikely to be able to achieve
the level of planning or reporting anticipated in the draft bill. The
achievements of cities like Columbus and Philadelphia demonstrate the
impact such data systems can have upon results. This could be more
explicitly addressed in the bill.
A second area to examine concerns the constitution and
responsibilities of the Boards. The Boards are required to do a
tremendous amount of reporting, much of it on the performance of public
and private systems and institutions. They are asked to address
discharge planning and prevention policy and practice in systems of
care that are beyond their control. While this reporting would be
useful, in and of itself it is not likely to change these systems. It
will be costly, and unless there is representation from relevant public
and private agencies on the Board, the information may be difficult to
obtain. Frankly, the issues of discharge planning and the utilization
of mainstream services might be more effectively addressed in companion
legislation directed to the U.S. Departments of Health and Human
Services, Justice, Veterans Affairs, etc. Alternatively, the bill might
include incentives to encourage key agencies to participate in local
homeless planning. At a minimum, the bill could list key public sector
agencies that must participate in local Boards if local applications
are to be successfully funded.
Closing the Front Door
The draft bill includes numerous references to homelessness
prevention and requires Boards to describe improvements in discharge
from public institutions and other prevention efforts. These are
welcome shifts in emphasis. Again, a reauthorization of homeless
assistance programs at HUD cannot be expected to compel action in a
full range of public systems of care. This will have to be more
substantively addressed in future companion legislation.
Opening the Back Door
The bill draft clearly improves the outcome focus of the homeless
assistance programs. It places the emphasis much more squarely on
placement of people in permanent housing. The Alliance is particularly
supportive of the set-aside of 30 percent of the funding for permanent
housing for people with disabilities. In fact, you are encouraged to go
even further and target these resources to people who experience
chronic homelessness (and are also disabled) in order to make progress
in helping this most difficult to serve population.
The Alliance is also extremely supportive of the provision in the
draft that provides funds for the renewal of permanent housing
subsidies from the Section 8
account. This will allow, over time (an estimated 10 years), 200,000
chronically homeless people to be provided with permanent supportive
housing--a key step toward ending homelessness.
The Administration commits, in its fiscal year 2003 budget request,
to end chronic homelessness in 10 years. The Alliance fully supports
this goal, as part of its own goal of ending all homelessness in 10
years. Authorizing the 30 percent set-aside for permanent supportive
housing and shifting the renewal of this housing to the Section 8
account would have a significant positive impact on the Nation's
ability to end chronic homelessness in 10 years.
Finally, the Alliance applauds the bill's focus on housing
placement. Homelessness funding will never be adequate to end poverty
for the millions of people who enter the homeless system every year.
What can be expected is for the homeless system to end people's
homelessness. People should be moved into housing as quickly as
possible, and the draft bill has provisions to encourage this preferred
Building the Infrastructure
Since this bill focuses only on the homeless programs, it does not
have a major impact on the systemic changes needed, including improving
the supply of affordable housing, providing adequate incomes, or
adequately addressing service needs. It is important to note, however,
that to the degree that new permanent supportive housing or housing for
families is developed, the affordable housing supply can be increased.
Millions of people become homeless in our Nation each year and
thousands of nonprofit and public sector agencies spend billions of
dollars to help them. This system functions fairly well to manage the
problem. However, because it cannot stop people from becoming homeless,
and does not create the housing that can end their homelessness, this
homeless assistance system cannot reasonably be expected to end
And homelessness can be ended. To make progress toward this goal,
the Federal Government can do two things. First, it can adjust the
existing homeless programs to improve their outcome orientation. It can
distribute money more rapidly; focus resources more tightly on the goal
of ending homelessness for individuals and families by moving them more
quickly into permanent housing; create an adequate supply of permanent
supportive housing for chronically homeless people; and be more
attentive to emergency prevention measures such as rent assistance that
can divert people from the homeless system altogether.
The second step, however, is beyond the purview of the homeless
involves making mainstream systems of care and custodial systems more
responsive to the housing needs of those they serve, and preventing
them from shifting these people and the cost of serving them into the
homeless assistance system. It involves the creation of more affordable
housing, the provision of adequate incomes, and the provision of
services adequate to meet needs.
The draft bill Senator Reed and his wonderful staff have developed
does a good job of addressing the first task. It builds upon a
successful system of delivering
resources. Communities are highly invested in this system, which is
well embedded in communities. It makes sense to focus on improving the
existing administrative infrastructure rather than replacing that
infrastructure. Creating a whole new
infrastructure is unlikely to have any significant impact on ending
homelessness. The draft bill tightens up the existing system by
codifying its procedures, including the allocation formula and the
planning body. It focuses the program much more tightly on outcomes and
outcome-based planning. It authorizes critical provisions necessary to
end homelessness, including targeting a proportional amount of the
resources to permanent supportive housing, and normalizing the renewal
of housing for homeless people. Overall, it improves the administration
of current programs, and shifts their focus to improve outcomes. The
National Alliance to End Homelessness believes that this is a positive
As to the second part of the Federal responsibility, the draft bill
sets the stage for positive change. Mainstream systems of care and
custodial systems such as prisons must be engaged to close the front
door into homelessness and open the door out of homelessness. The
Alliance looks forward to working with the Members of the Committee on
this critical task in the future.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MITCHELL NETBURN
Executive Director, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
Los Angeles, California
March 6, 2002
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am honored that you
have invited the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to testify in
support of the
reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, known as LAHSA, is a
powers authority of the City and County of Los Angeles. Founded in
1993, LAHSA is governed by a 10 member commission. Each of the 5 Los
Angeles County Supervisors appoints one commissioner and the Mayor of
the city of Los Angeles appoints the other 5 commissioners.
LAHSA has been the lead coordinator for the second largest
Continuum of Care system in the country since the inception of HUD's
Continuum of Care funding
process. Prior to the establishment of LAHSA, there had been no local
coordination of funding for homeless housing and services. The
Continuum of Care requirements enabled LAHSA to vigorously pursue a
regional approach to addressing homelessness. This is critical to
successfully address homelessness, especially given the geography
covered by our Continuum--four thousand square miles--and the extreme
differences in infrastructure and needs across our county. Moreover,
Los Angeles County encompasses 88 jurisdictions, including 34
entitlement cities.\1\ McKinney-Vento funding has made it possible for
LAHSA to provide critically needed leadership in integrating services
across jurisdictional boundaries and between homeless and mainstream
service delivery systems.
\1\ Three of those cities, Glendale, Pasadena, and Long Beach,
submit their own Continuum of Care application, but have been
coordinating their Homeless Management Information System planning with
We are proud of the collaborative efforts stimulated by the
Continuum of Care and support reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento
Homeless Assistance Act to codify the Continuum of Care and a
competitive process for obtaining funding for homeless programs.
Nature and Extent of Homelessness in Los Angeles County
The most commonly used estimate indicates that there are 84,000
men, women, and children homeless on any given night in Los Angeles
County.\2\ A more recent County survey found that 375,000 adults
experienced homelessness in the previous 5 years. While many of these
persons doubled up in someone else's home, up to half resorted to
staying on the streets or in shelters.\3\
\2\ The Number of Homeless People in Los Angeles City and County:
July 1993 to June 1994. Shelter Partnership, Inc., Los Angeles.
\3\ Cousineau, Michael R. and Brian Shimabakura, ``The Five Year
Prevalence of Homelessness in Los Angeles County: Findings from the
L.A. County Health Survey,'' Institute for the Study of Homelessness
and Poverty Colloquia presentation, Los Angeles, January 20, 1999.
Since 1995, the Los Angeles Continuum of Care has received over
$325 million through the McKinney-Vento Act. In the last year alone,
McKinney-Vento funded programs that served more than 63,000 homeless
men, women, and children. These programs include outreach services,
supportive services, emergency shelter, and transitional and permanent
housing. Among them are model programs in the area of specialized
employment services for homeless persons, the relocation of families
living in shelters to permanent housing, and permanent supportive
housing lauded for addressing chronic homelessness and its contribution
to neighborhood improvement. McKinney-Vento funding has enabled
localities to leverage millions of dollars in private funding and
investment while also contributing to the aesthetic improvement of many
Notwithstanding this significant level of Federal support for
homeless persons, we face very real challenges to ending homelessness.
Over the last 10 years, Los
Angeles County has experienced increasing poverty and diminishing
housing resources for our lowest-income residents. Los Angeles County
is reporting, despite a 3\1/2\ percent drop in unemployment since 1990,
poverty in the County has increased by 46 percent. These conditions
have fueled greater demand for homeless services even before the local
economy began to experience general economic hardship since last fall.
Specifically within the City of Los Angeles, there is a 3.5 percent
rental housing vacancy rate,\4\ among the lowest rate in the last 4
years. Not only does this mean a tighter housing market for low-income
renters, but also those who are fortunate enough to receive a Section 8
voucher are finding fewer and fewer landlords willing to rent to them.
The City's Housing Authority reports that only 41 percent of households
issued vouchers are able to use them.\5\ On a brighter note, the Los
Angeles City Council last week adopted the Mayor's plan for
establishing a $100 million Housing Trust Fund. And this November,
voters in the State of California will have the opportunity to approve
over $2 billion in bond financing for affordable housing.
\4\ Citywide vacancy rate from January 1998 through January 2002
for multifamily, individually metered housing units. Los Angeles
Housing Department /Policy and Planning Unit.
\5\ ``Housing Less Affordable as Rent-Wage Gap Widens,'' Los
Angeles Times, October 3, 2001.
We are looking forward to unprecedented funding opportunities at
the local, State, and Federal level to finally end homelessness. In
reauthorizing the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, you have the
opportunity to harness this momentum and provide the Federal leadership
necessary to end homelessness.
Recommendations for Reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless
In looking toward reauthorization, our experience tells us that the
collaborative, community-based process generated by the Continuum of
Care works. Our system as a whole is better, more vigorous, and more
integrated because of the incentives created by the Continuum of Care
to engage in a broadly inclusive planning process and to identify the
resources in mainstream systems that need to serve our homeless
We have, however, outgrown the current McKinney-Vento Act and offer
Keep the program flexible. Every community has different
circumstances that call for different approaches to addressing
homelessness. The strength of the existing McKinney-Vento system is
that it allows localities to determine how they can best use the
funding to meet the needs of homeless individuals and families. In
some communities, local governmental agencies are strong advocates
delivery and understand how to work with their nonprofit partners
to serve the homeless. In other areas, the nonprofit community is
better positioned to lead that decisionmaking process. By allowing
localities to decide who is best suited to lead the planning effort
and apply for funding, we avoid the difficulties that often occur
when disinterested entities are the appointed recipients for
Ensure Federal coordination of homeless programs by locating
the Interagency Council on Homelessness in the White House Domestic
Policy Office. While nearly all of LAHSA's funding for homeless
programs originates in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), many of the homeless housing and service
agencies that we fund are also funded by other Federal Departments,
including the Departments of Veterans' Affairs, Health and Human
Services, Labor and Education. Coordination of funding and programs
could be furthered by having a centralized presence in the White
House to oversee a national plan to end homelessness.
Lift the cash match requirement for permanent housing.
Developers in our system have reported that the 25 percent cash
match requirement under the SHP
permanent housing program has hampered efforts to use this program
in the Los Angeles area. Although new sources of local funding are
on the horizon, securing and documenting the cash match for this
process is not always feasible. This in turn inhibits development
of the permanent affordable housing we so desperately need to end
Move the renewal of Shelter Plus Care and Supportive Housing
Program Permanent Housing Contracts to the Housing Certificate
Fund. By the time these
programs are ready to renew, they have demonstrated their
effectiveness and the tenants in the programs are no longer
homeless. Therefore, we urge you to consider these renewing
programs as ``mainstream,'' thereby allowing renewals to be funded
from a mainstream source.
Provide for Homeless Management Information Systems funding.
Several years ago, Congress wisely directed HUD to embark on
implementing computerized data collection. LAHSA has begun working
on a countywide homeless management information system that would
be used not only by McKinney-Vento-funded programs, but by agencies
serving the homeless that do not receive Federal funding. We have
embraced this opportunity to establish a system that will help
homeless persons access services, providers to track the work that
they do, and allow localities to assess the effectiveness of their
programs. However, this entails considerable costs that we cannot
sustain with local funding. We look to you to
ensure that the HMIS requirement will not be an unfunded mandate.
Retain the competitive process for homeless services funding.
While administering an annual competition does consume significant
local resources, the system is
better for it. The current process is a catalyst that empowers us
to work closely with agencies from the 31 entitlement cities within
our Continuum of Care, as well as with the County-administered
housing, health, and welfare systems. Therefore, LAHSA has
historically opposed the block granting of Federal homeless
I thank you for this opportunity to share the experiences of Los
Angeles County and our suggestions for improving the existing
legislation. I strongly support your efforts to reauthorize the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act so that we will have the
critical resources and Federal leadership necessary to end
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MARY ANN GLEASON
Director, York County Initiative to End Homelessness, Alfred, Maine
March 6, 2002
Good afternoon, Senators, and others concerned about homelessness
Nation. Thank you, Senator Reed, for your kind invitation to appear
before the Subcommittee. Thank you, Senator Collins, for your gracious
The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act was enacted into
law in July 1987, as the first, and to date only, major Federal
legislative response to homelessness as a national issue of grave
concern. According to the Urban Institute, as many as 842,000 persons
on any given night, and up to 3\1/2\ million a year become homeless in
the United States.
In Maine, the number of admissions into our shelters grew by 51
percent over the last 4 years. Thirty-two percent of those who become
homeless in our State are
families; 11 percent are youth; 13 percent are veterans; 37 percent are
employed; nearly 45 percent are challenged by disabilities. Sixty-one
percent are high school graduates. Twelve percent have attended at
least a year of college; in Portland, 29 percent have graduated from,
or at least attended college. The average monthly income of shelter
residents in Maine is $240. It is also important to know that 68
percent of those who entered the shelters were homeless in some other
form prior to doing so, and prior, therefore, to being counted. They
were doubled or tripled up with friends or relatives, living in motels,
cars, tents, speaking loudly to us of how many more live so close to
the edge that simply doing shelter or street counts cannot tell us the
scope of the problem.
Since passage of the McKinney bill, Rhode Island, Maine,
Conneticut, Colorado, and every other State has been the recipient of
HUD homeless assistance funds that have supported the development of
many highly effective programs that not only
allowed us to redress homelessness for those who suffer it, but also
serve as models for addressing the holistic needs of vulnerable
families and individuals. In Denver, McKinney funds helped renovate a
portion of 92 rental housing units, half of which were no longer
livable and contributed to the growing blight and crime in the
neighborhood. Having significantly upgraded the community's self-
regard, these units now provide permanent housing shared by persons
challenged by mental illness who had lived on the streets for years of
their lives, high-tech employees, factory workers, other families, and
individuals of mixed incomes in an integrated model we can all feel
good about. In another, new construction of a complex of permanent
affordable housing units for diverse populations that includes a
childcare center used by the broader neighborhood of homeowners, as
well as children homeless in the recent past. In Maine, we are
developing housing on an organic farm for late-stage alcoholics who
have become homeless to bring meaning and hope back to their lives, and
to provide vegetables and herbs for the bakery and catering service
shelter residents can develop skills in culinary arts from a terrific
chef. In Columbus, the housing first model moves families out of
shelters within 2 weeks and into permanent housing with transitional
services, so they can quickly be reintegrated into the larger society.
Developed now in many States, highly efficacious supportive housing
programs also provide employment opportunities for persons with
disabilities that help them feel whole again. For families who have
suffered domestic violence and consequent homelessness, we are
designing a cohousing model to create the community that September 11
taught us is America at her best. Nationally, HUD's McKinney programs
have had a positive impact in every State in the Union. The diversity
of the local responses has resulted in significant cross-fertilization
of good ideas and best practices.
Having read a draft of your bill, Senator Reed, I am delighted to
say it builds on much that is highly effective in HUD's McKinney
programs, and it improves elements needing such. I will mention a few:
1. It consolidates the separate McKinney programs and
eliminates the constraints they imposed to maximize
flexibility, creativity, and local decisionmaking.
2. It provides funding for the first time for permanent
housing for nondisabled families.
3. It removes the caps on funding for transitional and
permanent housing to more realistically reflect the cost of
housing construction and renovation at the diversity of
localities in our States.
4. It provides financial incentives to help build the funding
capacity of nonprofits so they can create housing stock for
those poorest among us that other Federal housing programs keep
moving away from.
5. It requires limited and appropriate Federal oversight to
insure that the Federal Government does not abnegate its
rightful role to effectively address the needs our most
6. It brings to the table both targeted homeless and
recipients, public and private, to collaborate their planning,
implementation, and evaluation activities in order to utilize
available resources in a manner that can maximize outcome
effectiveness, reduce duplication, and reverse policies and
procedures that unintentionally either stimulate or prolong
7. It places responsibility for interagency collaboration at
the Federal level in the hands of the Domestic Policy Council
within the Office of the President to help ensure each Federal
agency assumes their responsibility for preventing and ending
homelessness using the resources under their administration.
Talking about homelessness is actually a dialogue about deeper and
broader issues that narrowing to a topic too easily dismissed is
neither accurate nor
informed. It is a dialogue about the lack of opportunity for housing
stability, an essential condition for family health and well-being,
retaining steady employment and employees, children succeeding in
school, neighborhoods retaining their quality and safety, disabled and
elderly persons living as full and dignified a life as possible.
It is a dialogue about the unfinished business of
deinstitutionalization--insuring that community-based housing,
treatment and support services are available and
affordable. It is a dialogue about welfare reform whose enlightened
purpose would be economic viability for the participating families, not
naively moving the rolls into hidden or blatant homelessness. It is a
dialogue about recipients of Federal block grants that fund behavioral
health care, not being held accountable for the poorest and most
vulnerable of their target populations. It is a dialogue about wages
and cash assistance benefits that remain remarkably disproportionate to
the cost of housing and other basic needs. We can respond in one of two
ways--increase income levels so housing is affordable at whatever costs
the market requires, or we can significantly increase the public
investment in producing and sustaining affordable housing. Doing
neither is a prescription for protracted homelessness. Housing policy
in America is primarily investment policy, an approach that is simply
inadequate to meeting the housing needs of the disabled person whose
annual SSI income is $6,000 a year, or a full-time worker earning even
$7.00 an hour. The larger housing dialogue is about producing housing
and not simply talking about producing housing. It is about 36,000 new
housing vouchers being proposed nationwide for 2003, when in one city
alone, there are 150,000 eligible households on the waiting list.
Finally, homelessness is about a shredded and shameful safety net,
including the lack of health care, in a Nation blessed with both the
resources and the ingenuity to be fairer than that. I look at the
weight of poverty, and burden of disregard that homelessness represents
and wonder how, having so much, we have come so far from what is right
In conclusion, we suggest that these broader issues that form the
structural underpinnings of homelessness must be addressed through
omnibus legislation, similar but broader than the original McKinney
legislation. We would be delighted to help you to pursue such
legislation, replicating the highly collaborative process that resulted
in the Community Partnership to End Homelessness Act of 2002.
Thank you for listening. I would be happy to answer any questions.
RESPONSE TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS OF SENATOR REED FROM ROY A.
Q.1. How many units of housing have been created with McKinney
funds? How many of these are permanent housing units?
A.1. HUD records and tracks information regarding housing
created under the McKinney-Vento Act using Annual Performance
Report (APR) data submitted by project grantees. APR data
records beds created and sustained rather than housing units.
On the basis of the most current analysis of APR data, HUD's
McKinney-Vento Act programs have created and are currently
funding 155,000 beds of which 43,000 are permanent housing
Q.2. How many communities has HUD provided McKinney funding to
since its inception. Have both urban and rural communities been
able to access the funds?
A.2. The vast majority of the grantees under HUD's McKinney-
Vento Act programs are nonprofit organizations, not
communities. Therefore, the precise number of communities where
projects have been assisted since 1987 is not known. However,
in fiscal year 2002, $150 million in formula-based funding
under the Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) Program was provided
to 324 metropolitan cities and urban counties, 50 States,
Puerto Rico and the territories. In the fiscal year 2001
Continuum of Care (CoC) homeless competition, over $900 million
was allocated to nearly 400 Continuum of Care jurisdictions
covering almost 90 percent of the
population of the Nation. Rural and urban communities can
access both the ESG and the CoC competitive funds. We estimate
approximately 11 percent of the 2001 competitive funds had been
awarded to projects in rural communities.
Q.3. The Administration has made ending chronic homelessness in
the next decade a top objective, but HUD's programs will
continue to be funded at $1.1 billion. When we asked you if
this funding level was sufficient to meet the Administration's
goal, you said that this level would not achieve the desired
result. Please provide us with an analysis of the appropriate
level of HUD funding needed to achieve this goal if budget
constraints were not an issue.
A.3. The HUD program that most directly works toward ending
chronic homelessness is the Shelter Plus Care Program. This
program provides rental assistance for permanent supportive
housing for disabled homeless persons. HUD has committed to
additional funding above the current funding level to ensure
that all otherwise eligible Shelter Plus Care renewal projects
be renewed. The renewal demand for fiscal year 2003 is
estimated to be $118 million and is increasing annually as
additional S+C projects seek renewal. Although it is difficult
to project exact renewal needs due to the flexible nature of
the 5 year grants, based upon already approved 1 year renewals
and projected renewals of 5 year grants, it is estimated that
the renewal demand for Shelter Plus Care will be approximately
$200 million in fiscal year 2004. In order to meet this
increasing demand and still have enough funds to continue
funding new and renewal Supportive Housing Program, the budget
request will need to be adjusted appropriately.
Additionally, HUD has moved aggressively to encourage our
applicants to seek needed funding for supportive services from
the mainstream supportive service programs of HHS, VA, the
Social Security Administration, the Department of Agriculture,
and other agencies. As the transition to other sources
continues, a growing percentage of HUD's funding is being freed
up for use in developing housing. As a result, large additional
increases in HUD's homeless appropriations, beyond the S+C
renewal costs noted above, are not anticipated.
Q.4. What is the Secretary's plan for achieving funding
commitments and active engagement from other Federal agencies--
example, HHS, DOL, DOE--toward the goal of preventing and
A.4. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is working
with a variety of other Federal agencies to prevent and end
chronic homelessness in the United States. In particular, we
have undertaken several major initiatives with the Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS) to not only coordinate
activities but also, most importantly, to open up the enormous
resources tied to the HHS mainstream supportive service
programs for use in meeting the critical supportive service
needs of homeless persons. On a monthly basis, a senior level
task force composed of
representatives from HHS, HUD, and the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) meets monthly to discuss funding availability and
areas for eliminating duplication. The goal of the Task Force
is to discuss access to programs and how to eliminate obstacles
prevent homeless persons from obtaining supportive services. To
this end, we have collaborated on definitions for supportive
service programs and, for the first time, these joint HUD/HHS
definitions are included in HUD's 2002 Homeless Assistance
Funding Application. Similar interdepartmental coordination has
been achieved in the development of Policy Academies funded by
HUD and HHS in which State governments are actively engaged in
identifying and eliminating barriers that currently prevent
homeless persons from accessing supportive service funding.
HUD's efforts to coordinate access to Federal funds are now
being assisted by the Interagency Council for the Homeless. The
Agency, with the new leadership of the Director, Philip
Mangano, is responsible for: (1) planning and coordinating the
Federal Government's actions and programs to assist homeless
people, and making or recommending policy changes to improve
such assistance; (2) monitoring and evaluating assistance to
homeless persons provided by all levels of government and the
private sector; (3) ensuring that technical assistance is
provided to help community and other organizations effectively
assist homeless persons; and (4) disseminating information on
Federal resources available to assist the homeless population.
Q.5. You say in your testimony that you are intending to make
changes to the Continuum of Care application process to focus
less on process and more on outcomes. What types of changes are
you intending to make?
A.5. The following changes have been made in HUD's fiscal year
2002 Continuum of Care application process:
HUD has established a goal for eliminating chronic
homelessness within 10 years. In this year's application,
HUD is requiring communities to provide their strategy for
ending chronic homelessness and to report any progress that
has been made over the past year that would contribute to
this goal. HUD is still requiring communities to set goals,
action steps, and a timetable for achievement of the goals
that address their other homelessness needs.
In HUD's upcoming national competition, under the
Supportive Housing Program, applicants may include, as an
eligible activity, the development and implementation of
homeless management information systems (HMIS). This will
allow communities to track their homeless clients and
report unduplicated data to HUD regarding client outcomes
that is, types of housing clients reside in, supportive
services provided, homeless provider information, etc.
State and local government applicants must certify
that they have a discharge plan for the discharge of
persons from publicly funded institutions or systems of
care if they request funding under the CoC programs, for
example, Supportive Housing,
Shelter Plus Care, and Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation
for SRO programs. In this year's application, applicants
that certified in 2001 are required to describe any
discharge policy or protocols they have developed.
Project applicants are now required to provide
information in the application regarding the progress made
by homeless clients based on program goals. The program
goals are: (1) residential stability, (2) increased client
skills or incomes and (3) greater self-determination.
HUD is placing greater emphasis on housing assistance
for homeless individuals and families. In the 2002 CoC
competition, HUD will award up to 5 points to Continuums
approvable funds go toward housing activities as opposed to
supportive services activities. Housing activities consist
assistance; and acquisition, rehabilitation, new
construction, leasing and operating costs for supportive
Q.6. Many credit HUD's Continuum of Care with improving
coordination of homeless programs and providing a more
comprehensive approach to homelessness within communities.
However, the Continuum of Care has traditionally focused more
on targeted rather than mainstream programs. We know that
access to mainstream programs (such as, Medicaid, SSI, and Food
Stamps) by homeless people is a serious concern. What are your
ideas on how to provide communities with an opportunity to
better coordinate and integrate their mainstream and homeless
programs? What key actions or strategies does HUD feel should
be taken in order to reduce the barriers that homeless people
face in accessing mainstream Federal programs?
A.6. HUD began encouraging communities to integrate mainstream
resources in their Continuum of Care planning in last year's
competition by requesting that the community describe their
strategy to coordinate homeless assistance with various
mainstream programs. This year's application places more
emphasis and scoring points on the continuum-wide strategy to
identify homeless persons eligible for mainstream programs,
enroll them in the programs and ensure that they receive
assistance. In addition to encouraging continuum-wide strategy
to access mainstream programs, HUD is also rating individual
projects on their plan to ensure that all homeless clients will
be assisted in obtaining benefits under mainstream programs. We
believe that this may encourage continuums to work more closely
with mainstream providers that have not traditionally been
involved with the Continuum of Care.
HUD has also been actively participating in a senior level
working group that includes representatives from HHS and VA.
The working group meets monthly to try to overcome barriers
that homeless people face in accessing mainstream Federal
programs. In addition to this working group, HHS and HUD have
sponsored two policy academies for State and local policy
makers to improve access to mainstream services for homeless
persons. State teams attending the academies are to prepare a
State Action Plan that identified specific strategies for
overcoming barriers to accessing mainstream programs.
Q.7. The most recent Conference of Mayor's study of hunger and
homelessness states that demand for emergency shelter has
increased in 2001 and that most applicants for public housing
and Section 8 vouchers are on a 1 year or more waiting list.
What does HUD propose to do to increase the supply of
affordable housing to meet these needs?
A.7. Within the limits of the current budget constraints tied
to the war against terror and the slowing economy, HUD's fiscal
year 2003 budget seeks to expand the number of households that
afford the costs of rental housing, as identified below:
We are requesting 34,000 additional housing vouchers.
We are proposing a $74 million increase in HOME
funding, even after taking out the $200 million for the
American Dream Downpayment Fund.
We are continuing our strong commitment to Section 202
for the elderly and Section 811 for the disabled.
We are adding $15 million to the Housing Opportunity
For Persons With AIDS Program--raising it from $277 million
to $292 million.
We will continue to emphasize permanent housing
solutions to addressing the needs of the long-term homeless
using McKinney-Vento Continuum of Care funds.
Q.8. In your testimony, you discuss HUD's concept of a Joint
Task Force to seek ways to increase the use of mainstream
supportive service funds. How is this group's purpose different
than the Interagency Council on the Homeless (ICH)?
A.8. As more fully discussed in response to question 4 above,
HUD has joined with HHS and VA in a joint, senior-level working
group that is working to coordinate delivery of housing and
supportive service assistance to homeless persons. While this
objective is consistent with the goals of the ICH, the purpose
of the HUD/HHS/VA working group is focused on a very specific
objective that is now limited to these three agencies.
Additionally, at the time the working group was initiated in
February 2001, the ICH had not been reestablished. Upon
installation of the ICH Director, the working group has been
coordinating its activities with ICH Director Philip Mangano.
Q.9. In your testimony, you also discuss the use of ``Policy
Academies'' to assist State and local policymakers in
developing Action Plans intended to improve access to
mainstream health and human services that are coordinated with
housing. Please describe these Policy Academies, their purpose
and who was involved in planning and attending such Academies?
A.9. The idea for the Policy Academy concept originated after a
national meeting in September 2000 titled ``Building
Partnerships for Access to Health Care and Social Services for
Persons Who Are Homeless. `` In this session, HUD and HHS
officials asked stakeholders to describe barriers and solutions
to better uses of multiple funding sources. As an outgrowth of
this conference, HUD and HHS formed a joint working group that
later grew to include VA. The mission of this group was to
develop a project that would focus States on how their current
policies and program resources could be coordinated and
integrated at the State level to improve their ability to serve
the homeless. Our research revealed how little State officials
knew about each other's programs and areas of
responsibility and consequently what the Policy Academies could
accomplish. The purpose of the Policy Academy is to bring
individuals from the same State together, sometimes for the
first time, with the task of developing a statewide Action Plan
access of the homeless population in their States, to
mainstream health and human services.
All States and Territories were invited to apply for slots
in the two planned Policy Academies. Thirty-seven States
applied. The sixteen top scoring applications were selected.
The initial Academy took place November 26-28, 2001, in Santa
Fe, New Mexico, focusing on how to increase the access of
families and children to mainstream resources. The second
Policy Academy is scheduled for April 9-11, 2002, in Boston,
Massachusetts, and will focus on the adults who are disabled
and have experienced chronic homelessness. Each State team is
assigned a facilitator who continues to work with the team over
the following year as the Action Plan is developed and
implemented. There are tentative plans to hold additional
Policy Academies and a National meeting that will be open to
all who are interested in hearing more about the State Plan
process and understanding the direction of the HUD/HHS
RESPONSE TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS OF SENATOR REED FROM STANLEY J.
Q.1. Your statement highlighted the need for better integration
of homeless assistance programs. Why is this so important?
A.1. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the multiple and
complex needs of homeless people--which may include medical
care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, housing,
income support, and employment services--should not be
addressed in isolation but rather through programs that are
integrated and that are coordinated. Yet, as we and others have
reported in the past, the Federal Government's system for
providing assistance to low-income people is highly fragmented.
Each Federal assistance program usually has its own eligibility
criteria, application, documentation requirements, and time
frames; moreover, applicants may need to travel to many
locations and interact with many
caseworkers to receive assistance, Among other things, this
fragmentation can make it difficult to develop an integrated
approach to helping homeless people, who often have multiple
Q.2. Mr. Czerwinski, some local communities use outcome
measures to evaluate their homeless programs. What do you
believe are the benefits of using outcome measures to evaluate
homeless programs? What kind of information do you believe
communities need to collect in order to effectively measure
outcomes? Is HUD or any other agency collecting such data?
A.2. The benefit of using outcome measures to evaluate homeless
programs is that the data can be used to hold programs
accountable for their performance. Our work in 1999 showed that
homeless assistance services are increasingly being evaluated
by measuring outcomes (such as number of clients who are no
longer homeless) rather than outputs (such as number of shelter
beds provided). Measuring program outcomes generally requires
the ability to collect data at the client-level (rather than
the aggregate community level) and over an extended period
(rather than at a single point in time). Implementing such data
gathering can require significant planning and development of
appropriate management information systems. Nevertheless, we
reported in 1999 that communities were increasingly using
outcome measures to manage their homeless
assistance programs. For example, in Minnesota the Family
Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program provides agencies
with grants they can use very flexibly, as long as the agency
sets specific outcome goals, develops a method for tracking
those outcomes, and reports on those outcomes. Similarly, the
Ohio Department of
Development requires its homeless assistance grantees to
develop performance targets that they are then held accountable
for achieving. HUD said that it has begun collecting data
through its Homeless Management Information System.
RESPONSE TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS OF SENATOR REED FROM NAN P. ROMAN
Q.1. You state in your testimony that, ``there is an overall
national shortage of affordable housing . . . earnings from
employment and benefits have not kept pace with the cost of
housing for poor people.'' What do you suggest should be done
to increase the supply of affordable housing?
A.1. Increasing the supply of affordable housing requires both
production of more low-cost housing and subsidies to very poor
people so that they can afford the housing, even if the cost is
HUD says that there is a shortage of 5.3 million units of
affordable housing. To achieve an adequate supply of affordable
housing, this gap would have to be filled with increased
production. To achieve more production, it will be necessary
either to devote substantial new resources to housing
production, or to target existing resources much more tightly
to production of very low-cost housing. A variety of strategies
can be used to distribute the increased
resources and produce the housing. Housing can be produced by
for-profit, nonprofit, or public sector entities. Each has its
advantages and disadvantages. It can be produced through
increasing funding to existing programs such as HOME, the Low
Income Housing Tax Credit, Section 202, and Section 811 (which
the Alliance has supported), and/or through a new production
vehicle such as the National Housing Trust Fund (which the
Alliance has also supported). Increased funding can be obtained
through new appropriations, and/or through targeting existing
resources to the
production of very low-cost housing. The bottom line is money.
Without more money, either new or redirected, devoted to the
production of low-cost housing, the gap will not be filled.
Even if there were substantial new production of very
inexpensive housing, there would be a sizeable group of people
who could not afford to live in it. In fact, using the Federal
standard of 30 percent of income for rent a substantial
percentage of renters could not afford to pay for the costs of
operating housing, even if all capital costs were covered.
There is simply no way to reduce the cost of housing to a level
that extremely low-income people can afford without subsidy.
So, additional subsidy will be required. This can be provided
via Section 8 or other subsidy vehicles. It has been suggested,
for example, that there be a renters' tax deduction similar to
the mortgage interest tax deduction. Another suggestion is that
there be a tax credit for excessive (above 30 percent of
income) housing cost burden. Again, the issue is money.
The short answer to the question, then, is that more money
is needed to increase the supply of affordable housing. The
vehicle through which this money is delivered is less important
than the money itself.
Q.2. Why is moving the renewals grants for the Shelter Plus
Care Program and the permanent housing components of SHP to the
Housing Certificate Fund so important to ending and preventing
A.2. Spending 30 percent of the HUD Homeless Assistance Grant
program funds on incremental permanent supportive housing over
10 years would result in the availability of 200,000 units of
permanent supportive housing for disabled homeless people,
according to Alliance calculations. Based upon available data
about homelessness, there are an estimated 200,000 chronically
homeless people in the Nation. This strategy, therefore, holds
the hope of ending chronic homelessness. By removing the
chronically homeless population from the homeless system,
moreover, additional resources would become available to assist
people who become homeless for shorter periods of time.
This supply of permanent housing will not be amassed,
however, if the subsidy contracts are renewed from this same 30
percent set-aside, (unless additional resources are added every
year). Three hundred million dollars worth of incremental
subsidies are needed every year. We recommend that the renewals
come from the Housing Certificate Fund, as this is the most
well-accepted method of funding renewals. However, any
mechanism that funded the
renewals would suffice. We estimate that after 10 years, when
the supply of housing was around 200,000 units, the cost of
maintaining rent subsidy would be something over $1 billion per
Q.3. Could you describe Dr. Dennis Culhane's University of
Pennsylvania study results on the cost of supportive housing
for the chronically homeless? What long-term benefits are
derived from providing services and housing to these
A.3. Dr. Culhane's 5 year study tracked 4,679 mentally ill
individuals in New York City for 2 years while they were
homeless and for 2 years after they were housed in permanent
supportive housing. The objective of the study was to assess
how many public
dollars were spent by and on these individuals both pre- and
post-housing. This was determined by tracking their use of
publicly funded service systems--emergency shelters,
psychiatric centers, hospitals, jails, and prisons. The study
found that on average, these individuals utilized $40,500 worth
of publicly funded services annually while homeless. Placement
in supportive housing resulted in a reduction in costs of
$16,282 per person per year. The cost of the housing was
$17,277. So the net cost of placing a mentally ill homeless
person in supportive housing was $995 per year. Essentially, to
quote Dr. Culhane, ``The solution can pay for itself.''
The Corporation for Supportive Housing says that overall,
supportive housing programs are around 85 percent successful in
stabilizing people. Individual programs claim success rates as
high as 95 percent. For people with chronic illnesses, many of
whom have lived on the streets for years, this is astounding
success, far above the success rate of mental health and
substance abuse treatment programs not linked with housing, for
example. To again quote Dr. Culhane, by providing people with
housing and services, ``Policymakers could substantially reduce
homelessness for a large and visible segment of the homeless
beyond the reach of the social welfare safety net. . . .''
Q.4. You express support for the Administration's initiative to
end chronic homelessness. Do you believe the Administration has
taken adequate steps to implement this commitment, and what
steps do you think should be taken to make this goal a reality?
A.4. The National Alliance to End Homelessness fully supports
the Administration's stated goal of ending chronic homelessness
within 10 years, and believes it to be possible and practical.
Having said that, the Administration has yet to structure or
fund programs that could achieve this goal, although some
progress has been made.
To end chronic homelessness, the Administration will need
address three things:
There are a series of steps, known as ``engagement,''
that may have to be taken in some cases before chronically
homeless people can enter housing. People may have to be
repeatedly, by outreach workers or other skilled
professionals to overcome their fears, lack of knowledge or
anxiety. They may initially require housing that has low
demands of them in terms of stability and sobriety (some
supportive housing requires stability and sobriety prior to
entering). Although HUD currently funds such activities, it
needs to improve communities' understanding of how to
utilize these programs to move people into permanent
HUD needs to ensure the renewal of existing permanent
supportive housing rental contracts. It did not request
adequate funds for this in its fiscal year 2003 budget
request and it has not yet taken steps to make this process
Funding must be found for the services attached to
supportive housing, moving forward. Units now online have
cobbled together services, many of which are funded by HUD.
Even if HUD funding of such services is thought to be a
good idea, there is not money available in the HUD homeless
programs to fund both the services and the housing, going
forward. HHS resources must be engaged. The Administration
did not propose any significant
activity or resources in HHS to address these needs.
On the other hand, HUD has done several things that move
the initiative forward:
It has pushed forward with requirements that
develop Homelessness Management Information Systems (HMIS).
Without such systems, chronically homeless people are
difficult to identify and strategies for ending chronic
homelessness are not based on realistic numbers.
It has appointed an Executive Director for the
Interagency Council on the Homeless, which would be a fine
vehicle for coordinating efforts among agencies. In
particular, it appears that the ICH will focus on
prevention--that is on discouraging agencies from
discharging people, particularly people with illnesses,
It is meeting with HHS and pushing that Agency to
coordinate better and to provide more funding for services.
It is using TA resources to encourage the development
of supportive housing.
RESPONSE TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS OF SENATOR REED FROM MITCHELL
Q.1. Why is LAHSA opposed to block granting McKinney-Vento
housing funding (other than Emergency Shelter Grant funding)?
A.1. Competition has been good for the Continuum of Care in Los
Angeles--it has motivated communities to work together to
identify and address needs across political boundaries. LAHSA
has opposed block granting of the McKinney-Vento Act funding
for the following reasons:
a. Many Continuum of Care networks involve multiple
jurisdictions and it is to their credit that they have
created regional responses to address their problem.
There are 31 entitlement cities in the Los Angeles
Continuum of Care. Few of those
cities coordinate use of their block grant funding.
However, the Continuum of Care has provided the impetus
to bring those cities together to coordinate their
funding, as our agency did in cooperation with the
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last
fall. In addition, the requirements of HMIS
implementation have not only meant further integration
of programs within the Los Angeles Continuum of Care,
cooperation with the neighboring Continuum of Care
systems in the cities of Pasadena, Glendale, and Long
Beach, as well as with Orange County.
b. Contrary to the collaboration fostered by the
Continuum of Care competitive process, block granting
would fuel fragmentation and lead to the likelihood of
ill-prepared jurisdictions returning unused funds. In
most instances, cities do not coordinate the use of
their block grant funding on a regional basis. Thus, we
could expect to see in Los Angeles County 31 separate
entities administering small portions of funding for
homeless programs. Many of these cities are not
equipped to manage a homeless services grant. In fact,
one of the reasons the Los Angeles area HUD office
agreed to sponsor a meeting with LAHSA last fall was
that many of the Consolidated Plan submissions by these
cities did not do an adequate job of
describing their response to homelessness.
c. Recent HUD action to impose penalties on
jurisdictions that are slow to spend Community
Development Block Grant funds illustrates how
entitlement funding does not guarantee that a
jurisdiction will use its funding in a timely manner.
d. The existing Continuum of Care planning process,
emphasizing a community-based process for determining
priorities, does allow for local control. And, because
the projects are specified in relation to a grant
request, provides stronger assurances that the funding
will be spent in a timely manner.
e. While no jurisdiction is assured a set allocation,
all applicants are provided a reasonable estimate of
funding, for example the pro rata need share they can
expect to receive if they submit a competitive
Our primary criticism of the pro rata need share lies with
the formula used for creating it; block granting would heighten
our concern about funding equity. We have found that within our
Continuum of Care, there are communities that defy the
formula's premise. Specifically, the City of Santa Monica has a
considerably larger visible homeless population than one would
expect, based on the pro rata need share number. Furthermore,
communities in our less populated areas, such as Lancaster,
face barriers due to their distance from concentrated service
areas. Finally, Hollywood has long been a magnet for homeless
and runaway youth from around the country. These are people
never included in Census figures. The pro rata need share
formula does not take into consideration these factors which
have a great impact on our communities. If a block grant system
were to be implemented, we would continue to share these
Q.2. Do you believe that increasing the supply of affordable
housing would help the existing problem? How would new
production address the needs of the homeless in Los Angeles?
A.2. Increasing the supply of affordable housing is essential
to ending homelessness--both for persons experiencing short-
term homelessness and those who are chronically homeless.
Lately, a great deal of attention has been given to
``chronically'' homeless persons because they tend to use a
substantially higher proportion of public services than the
balance of the homeless population. Chronically homeless
persons tend to have conditions such as mental illness or
serious addiction problems that, in an addition to poverty,
keep the prospect of staying in their homes out of reach.
However, in any given year, there is a much higher number of
more functional persons who become homeless simply because they
cannot find a home that they can afford.
A 1997 telephone survey in Los Angeles County found that
approximately 375,000 individuals were homeless at some point
in the previous 5 years. Of those reporting a prior homeless
experience, 35 percent indicated that they stayed in shelters
or on the streets, and another 8 percent stated that they
sometimes stayed in shelters, sometimes on the streets or with
others. Thus, over half did not enter into the homeless
delivery system at all, suggesting that for a substantial
number of people, homelessness is the result of economic
The shortage of affordable housing continues to be the most
significant problem we face in ending homelessness. In the last
3 years, Los Angeles County has implemented a State program
originally called ``AB34,'' after its State Assembly bill
number. The AB34 program is designed to end the cycle of
arrest, incarceration, and release to the streets of mentally
ill, nonviolent offenders. Under this program, community-based
mental health providers work with mentally ill inmates who are
about to be released. The challenge facing these providers has
been finding adequate housing for this population. The lack of
affordable, accessible housing has consistently been the
greatest barrier to success of this program.
While Section 8 has brought habitable housing within the
reach of extremely low-income households, the program does not
begin to meet the need. Moreover, in the current housing
market, fewer landlords are willing to accept Section 8
vouchers. Overall, in the city of Los Angeles, successful use
of new Section 8 vouchers has dropped to 41 percent of those
issued. Persons with disabilities fortunate enough to receive
Section 8 have even greater difficulty because so few of the
units accepting Section 8 are ADA accessible.
As I mentioned in my testimony, the low-vacancy rates and
challenges to the use of Section 8 in Los Angeles underscore
the need for affordable housing. For the nondisabled
individual, the income source of last resort in Los Angeles
County, General Relief, pays $221 per month. Working
individuals and heads of households on the margins have not
only low wages, but also unstable sources of income that make
it difficult to sustain rent payments at the lower end of the
market. This, of course, gives rise to overcrowding and tenancy
in substandard conditions, if not homelessness.
Persons with disabilities, in particular those who require
the use of a wheelchair, also find that new production of
accessible units affordable for low-income persons is not
keeping pace with demand.
In short, the unassisted housing market does not build for
these populations. New production must therefore include units
targeted to extremely low-income individuals and families, as
well as to low-income persons with disabilities, including
those who require supportive housing. Since the private market
does not--or is not
required to--build for these populations, Government
intervention and leadership is necessary to meet these needs.
Q.3. Why should the Homeless Management Information System
(HMIS) be an eligible activity apart from administration?
Couldn't communities recoup their costs for HMIS with their
administrative fee allocation? Has the 5 percent administrative
fee been sufficient for your Continuum of Care?
A.3. While a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)
should simplify program administration, its true purpose is to
facilitate program and systemic evaluation. Our recommendation
is to create, as a separate eligible activity, implementation
In preparing for selection of HMIS, jurisdictions have been
told that implementation will take far longer and cost far more
than originally envisioned. Apart from purchasing a system and
the hardware necessary for implementation, jurisdictions will
face continuing costs of training and technical assistance to
ensure proper use of HMIS. Moreover, we have been told that at
least 60 percent of the beds in our Continuum of Care must be
included in order for HMIS to provide reliable information
about service usage. Since we do not fund this threshold number
of beds in our Continuum, the line-item approach to funding
HMIS through administrative fees will mean that a significant
portion of the programs we want to use HMIS must find other
sources of funding for this activity.
Permitting HMIS to be a separate fundable activity gives us
the flexibility to include agencies in our geographic area that
currently do not receive HUD funding. A significant number of
such programs are likely to be the faith-based organizations
Administration has focused on for increased access to Federal
funding, but who, for a variety of reasons, do not wish to
apply for it. We see this activity as being consistent with
Congressional goals for evaluation and accountability, and with
the vision of the Administration to promote greater integration
among all programs serving the homeless.
For those programs receiving SHP funding, the 5 percent
administrative fee currently allowed fails to cover the cost of
administering Continuum of Care programs. The 5 percent
administrative fee is so low that LAHSA, as the Continuum of
Care grantee, long ago made the policy decision to pass the
entire amount on to the project sponsors. The extent to which
the 5 percent fee is insufficient likely depends on the agency
and the total grant amount. In fact, many sponsors have stated
that the 5 percent fee does not cover the administrative costs
essential for implementing a Continuum of Care program. The
larger organizations, with multiple funding streams are likely
able to take advantage of economies of scale and the 5 percent
fee may suffice. Smaller agencies, with few grants may struggle
to cover core administrative functions.
Therefore, the additional cost of implementing a system and
providing the needed staff training simply cannot be absorbed
by the administrative fee provided to our sponsoring agencies.
We agree with the Congressional directive stating the need for
HMIS, however, failing to provide an accompanying source of
funds to pay for it constitutes an unfunded mandate.
In addition to a separate category of funding for HMIS, we
recommend a 10 percent administrative rate, or a sliding scale
for program administration, with a higher rate for smaller
agencies or grants. This is still lower than the overhead rates
typically permitted by private foundations, and we believe, a
more realistic compensation for the administrative
responsibilities necessary to successfully manage a Continuum
of Care grant.