Meng Introduces Sweeping Legislation to End Homelessness and Housing Poverty
Feb 19, 2020
Congresswoman’s bill would help end chronic housing insecurity for New Yorkers and Americans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee that is responsible for funding all government agencies and programs, introduced the Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act, H.R. 5813, a bill which according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, would effectively end the scourge of homelessness and housing poverty in the country.
Meng’s legislation is a robust ten-year investment plan based on estimates from frontline, on-the-ground service providers, and experts that focus on meeting the challenges states and communities face every day.
Specifically, the bill consists of four provisions:
$10 billion per year in additional funding for the Emergency Solutions Grant Program, which focuses on homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing for individuals and families that find themselves homeless;
$10 billion per year in additional funding for the Continuum of Care Program, which helps organizations move those experiencing longer-term homelessness into the shelter system and provide needed supports;
$40 billion per year in direct appropriation to the Housing Trust Fund – on top of the existing funding provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – to begin to chip away at the deficit of units in our nation’s affordable housing stock; and
Fully fund Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (vouchers) to allow all eligible households to get into permanent, safe, affordable housing.
“Housing is a human right, and everyone deserves a safe and affordable home. But too many families are stricken with the cruel and impossible decision of choosing between paying rent or paying for groceries or prescription drugs. Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing are moral crises that we must fight, once and for all,” said Congresswoman Meng. “In New York, more than 90,000 New Yorkers are without a home, and nationwide, only 37 affordable and available homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. In my own Sixth Congressional District of New York, these numbers are even worse; only 18 housing units are available for every 100 extremely low-income households. This cannot be; it must not be. That is why I am proud to introduce the Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act, which is the House companion to Senator Hirono’s (D-HI) bill. This bill makes monumental investments to existing programs that have been proven to successfully combat homelessness and housing poverty. First, the investments would help get individuals who are most in need off the street and into supportive and safe housing; and second, the bill expands access to affordable housing for the long-term, while expanding the stock of affordable housing. Every family – every child – deserves a safe and stable home. I urge all my colleagues to support this bill to ensure housing justice for all.”
“I commend Congresswoman Meng for introducing legislation to invest resources at the scale necessary to help end homelessness and housing poverty once and for all,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Through robust investments in the national Housing Trust Fund, housing vouchers, and homeless assistance grants, Representative Meng’s bill addresses the underlying, systemic causes of the affordable housing and homelessness crisis: the widening gap between incomes and housing costs and severe shortage of homes affordable and available to the lowest-income seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, families with children, and other individuals. We must build the political will to enact this important bill.”
“The National Alliance to End Homelessness is deeply grateful to Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) for introducing in the U.S. House of Representatives Senator Hirono’s ‘Pathways to Stable and Affordable Housing For All,’ a bill that would provide critical assistance to the almost 600,000 Americans who are experiencing homelessness, the 4.4 million Americans who are living doubled-up with friends and families, and the millions of rent-burdened Americans who are spending an unsustainable amount of their income on rent,” said Nan Roman, President and CEO of National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Representative Meng understands that homelessness results largely from the lack of affordable housing – while also recognizing that until the shortage is addressed, short-term assistance will be needed by people who have become homeless. It provides to-scale support for the most effective homelessness programs, the Continuum of Care Program and the Emergency Solutions Grant Program. Similarly, it increases support for two highly effective housing programs: the Housing Choice Voucher Program and the National Housing Trust Fund.”
“The New York Housing Conference urges Congress to pass the Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act. This bill will help alleviate our current housing crisis by ensuring that all tenant-based vouchers stay fully funded while also targeting resources to create new housing affordable to the neediest renters. One out of ten NYC school children will experience homelessness this year. Across our state, more 900,000 households will pay more than half of their income on rent this month. Tonight, 92,000 are homeless. This is a preventable crisis. Congress must act with the urgency it deserves,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director of The New York Housing Conference. “We applaud Congresswoman’s Meng leadership on this issue.”
“Like many states in America, NYS is experiencing a homelessness crisis of epic proportions - more than 90,000 New Yorkers are currently without a home. This bill provides critical funding increases for the programs we know work - including supportive housing which ends homelessness for the very most vulnerable. The Supportive Housing Network of New York wholeheartedly endorses this vitally important bill,” said Laura Mascuch, Executive Director of Supportive Housing Network of New York.
“The affordable housing and homelessness crisis is a grave threat to our communities. Community members are regularly displaced from their homes, with little chance of finding an affordable place to live anywhere in the vicinity, and many sadly end up without a home,” said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “We applaud Congresswoman Meng’s bill – the Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act – which would fill gaps in the nation’s homelessness prevention infrastructure and to invest in affordable housing.”
"Having a roof over one's head is a basic human necessity that this great country should be able to afford all of its people,” said Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation. “Congresswoman Meng's bill proposes a practical no-brainer way to address the homeless and affordable housing crisis facing millions."
"Queens Community House’s Housing & Homelessness Prevention Program saves hundreds of families and individuals each year from the trauma of homelessness by stabilizing them through shelter, moving them into permanent housing, and/or leveraging assistance programs to keep them in their homes in the first place,” said Ben Thomases, Executive Director, Queens Community House. “Our country cannot succeed in meaningfully reducing homelessness without taking bold action to fund housing programs like ours. This bill articulates the steps necessary to make a lasting impact on this seemingly intractable problem."
“If you ask any New Yorker the number one problem in this city, it's that the cost of housing takes more and more out of their incomes everyday,” said Pedro Rodriguez, Executive Director of La Jornada. “More than half of New Yorkers pay more than 50% of their incomes on housing. At the end of every month, families are making a decision: Do we buy food or pay the rent? Every month housing takes more and more people into deficit living. That is when people’s expenses are more than their income, the first step to poverty. Representative Meng's proposed legislation is a great answer from our federal representatives to give a real answer with dollars and cents to this catastrophic issue. If we don't resolve this situation, it will destroy our city and state. Thank you Representative Meng for your leadership in the most important issue for the poor and the immigrants of our city.”
“Congresswoman Meng’s new bill - the “Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act” - is exactly the type of policy we need to solve the U.S.'s current housing crisis,” said Seema Agnani, Executive Director of National CAPACD. “As communities across the country are being forced into either leaving their neighborhoods, live in unsafe and overcrowded conditions, or on the streets - this type of transformative approach will provide a path forward. It combines urgently needed support for tenants with the resources needed to address the dire need for affordable housing across the country. We cannot continue to allow public resources to go towards development that does nothing to benefit the people who make this country thrive. Making bold investments in our communities and their most basic needs, such as housing, is the most strategic way for the public sector do realize its responsibility of caring for its people.”
Meng’s bill is the companion to Pathway to Stable and Affordable Housing for All Act, S. 2946, that was introduced by Senators Hirono (D-HI), Gillibrand (D-NY), and Booker (D-NJ).
Meng’s legislation is endorsed by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Alliance to End Homelessness, New York Housing Conference; Supportive Housing Network of NY; Make the Road NY; Chhaya Community Development Corporation; Queens Community House; La Jornada; and National CAPACD.