For Immediate Release: October 18, 2017
Contact: Rebekah Caruthers, Communications Director: (202) 256-7154; email@example.com
Statement on the Homeless Services Reform Amendment Act of 2017 (HRSA) Markup
Washington, DC— Councilmember Robert White negotiated key changes to HSRA that improves the bill for vulnerable residents. “We have to be more cautious and more careful when ensuring the stability and the accessibility of our safety net for those who face a housing crisis in our city and need our compassion. Nothing speaks more strongly about the values of a community than how it treats those who are in the most dire circumstance of homelessness,” said Councilmember White.
“I do not want to raise barriers around shelter, cut back services, or start from a presumption that those who find themselves homeless may not truly need shelter. I worry in a metro area dotted with construction cranes, packed with luxury condos, crisscrossed by bike lanes and dog parks, and filled with beautiful new government buildings and a brand-new sports stadium, that so much of the conversation has been about resource constraints and triage, limitations and hard timelines.”
“I am pleased that several changes were made to the bill and appreciate the Committee on Human Services Chair Brianne Nadeau’s willingness to make them…this bill is not going to be the last word on our homelessness system, and I look forward to working with the Committee and the advocates to continue our work and our oversight in the coming weeks and months.”
Key negotiated changes include:
- Reducing the number of documents required for homeless families to prove residency to access shelter from two documents to a single document so that we do not create barriers to access for families that may have lost documents;
- Significant limitations on the bill’s grant of authority to the Mayor to re-determine eligibility for programs to ensure that homeless residents can focus on getting their lives back together instead of continuously re-litigating their eligibility;
- Increasing the eligible income to 40% of the area median income (AMI) rather than 30% of AMI to access homelessness prevention services because any investment that keeps our residents out of shelter is a good investment and we know that many families face housing crises, even with higher incomes;
- And, ensuring that homeless residents do not lose their eligibility due to hospitalization or incarceration by increasing the time that our residents could be in an institution and retain their homeless status to 180 days from 90 days because so many of our homeless residents cycle in and out of hospitals, mental health facilities, and jails.