Beatty, Stivers Call on HUD to Improve Homeless Reporting
Beatty, Stivers Call on HUD to Improve Homeless Reporting
Central Ohio members join forces to improve homeless support services
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03), joined by Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15), sent a letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson requesting a demonstration project using community-led surveys to better identify “doubled-up” families and children, as well as foster care youth aging-out and at risk of homelessness.
“Without adequate data, how can HUD effectively assist families, especially for many young people who are just one step away from sleeping on the streets?” Beatty continued, “That is why I call on HUD to conduct a study to determine if local, community-led surveys can better help the federal government address homeless issues in America.”
According to a 2015 nationwide report, HUD counted 206,286 people in families with children experiencing homelessness. Yet, data from U.S. Department of Education indicated that during the 2014-2015 school year there were approximately 1.2 million homeless students. These discrepancies make it that much more difficult to properly serve at-risk children.
“No child should ever be without a home, and the current method of counting homeless children, young adults, and former foster youth is inconsistent across our government agencies – leaving many of the most vulnerable in our population with nowhere to turn for help,” Stivers said. “This project will help give us a more accurate count to better understand the scope of the homelessness issue and how we can better help those who need it. I am proud to join Representative Beatty in supporting this project.”
The Beatty-Stivers’ letter requests the feasibility study be conducted in HUD Region Five (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin) because in Ohio, over 1,000 young people exit the foster care system annually and face the adult world without support. Moreover, advocates that serve at-risk populations in Ohio’s Third and Fifteenth Congressional Districts estimate between 4,500-5,000 youth are currently eligible for HUD services but are not receiving assistance. Furthermore, the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, and Detroit metropolitan areas (three of the United States’ 25 largest metro areas) have a homelessness rate of 16 percent, 12 percent and 10 percent respectively. A demonstration project would help HUD adopt best practices—from localities throughout the Midwest—which could then be used at the agency level across the country in order to get a more accurate count on the number of foster care youth at-risk of becoming homeless and those who currently are homeless, as well as those families who are “doubled-up” in order to avoid homelessness.
In addition to requesting a HUD feasibility study this Congress, Beatty cosponsored Stivers’ bill, the Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2017, H.R 1511, legislation that would expand HUD’s definition of “homelessness” to include children and youth who are already verified as homeless by several other federal educational and social services programs, such as foster children who have aged-out of services..
A copy of the Beatty-Stivers letter is below:
Dear Secretary Carson:
Congratulations on your confirmation as Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). We write today, in a bipartisan manner, to request your assistance on an issue that is of utmost importance not only to Ohio but to our nation – eradicating the scourge of youth and young adult homelessness. As HUD has worked to end homelessness in America and has made strides in reducing the number of people sleeping on the streets, more can be done to reduce the number of people housed in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and “doubling-up”. Therefore, we are respectfully requesting HUD create a demonstration project in Region 5 (which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) to test the viability of using local community-led surveys to properly identify:
- The number of poor families and youths who are “doubled-up” for economic reasons; and
- Those individuals who have exited foster care at the age of 16 or older or who are preparing to exit foster care because of age or other circumstance and are currently without the prospect of stable housing.
In its 2015 nationwide survey, HUD counted 206,286 people in families with children that experienced homelessness. However, data from the Department of Education indicated that during the 2014-2015 school year there were approximately 1.2 million homeless students nationwide. The discrepancies in these numbers and the way differing federal agencies “count” or “define” those who are homeless prevent Congress and your agency from providing the resources needed to serve the most vulnerable among us – our children.
Moreover, according to Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, young adults associated with child welfare systems are more likely to experience homelessness as adults or as they transition to adulthood. Housing instability can undermine the pursuit of post-secondary education and employment at a livable wage, may be detrimental to physical and emotional health, and can increase vulnerability to crime and substance abuse. Stable, affordable housing with appropriate services can help prevent youth exiting foster care transition to adulthood.
One of the challenges in providing much needed assistance to children, young adults, and former foster youth who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless is accurate data. Our suggested demonstration project can help provide HUD with better data. We believe it makes sense for this demonstration project to be done in Region 5, because in Ohio, we have three of the top counties for numbers of “aging out” of foster care youth. Over 1,000 young people emancipate from the Ohio foster care system annually at the age of 18 and face the adult world without support. Moreover, advocates that serve these at-risk populations in our Congressional Districts estimate that between 4,500-5,000 youth are currently eligible for services, but not receiving them. Furthermore, the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, and Detroit metropolitan areas, as three of the twenty-five largest metro areas in the Unites States have a homelessness rate of 16%, 12%, and 10% respectively, which includes veteran homelessness, family homelessness, chronically homeless, and homeless youth.
This demonstration project could provide options for count/survey methodologies that could be utilized nationwide and offer much needed technical assistance to local entities conducting the count/survey. From this demonstration project, we believe HUD will discover best practices from localities throughout the Midwest which could then be used at the agency level across the country in order to get a more accurate count of the number of foster care youth at-risk of becoming homeless or who are currently homeless. This effort will assist Congress in making funding decisions moving forward.
While we believe Federal law permits you to establish this demonstration program, we are open to discussions concerning any legal or legislative impediments you believe may exist as we would be more than willing to work with you a legislative solution. We look forward to your thoughtful consideration to get this this demonstration project moving forward.
Member of Congress, OH-03
Member of Congress, OH-15
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