As our nation recovers from the 2008 economic crisis, a necessary step in continuing to improve our economy is shoring up our housing markets. This means expanding opportunities that allow for more Americans to afford homes, while also preventing a reversal to the predatory home mortgage policies of the past. We need to increase investments in Section 8 housing programs and Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers. These types of housing voucher programs have proven to be highly successful in assisting low-income families, the elderly, and homeless veterans find their own housing.

As families continue to recover from the recession and homeowners looking for employment cease to receive emergency unemployment benefits, many individuals and families could see paychecks dwindle and housing situations become jeopardized. We should ensure homeowners have adequate protections and do not lose the home equity they have built over many years. I will work towards a balance between limiting predatory or irresponsible lending, while encouraging lenders to continue to make loans that are fair and free of hidden fees and excessively high interest rates.

It is also essential that we tackle the growing problem of housing insecurity and homelessness in the Ninth District.  Housing and community development are key to citizens' quality of life. We can also keep interest rates low by reducing the federal debt and improve public housing programs to help families find affordable housing.

As our country faces a national homelessness crisis, it is imperative that Congress continue to advocate for comprehensive and long-term solutions to reverse this growing epidemic. With local homeless systems operating at maximum capacity and shelters already strained, persistent economic difficulties and rising addiction trends are leading to more people being left on the streets. Providing support and adequate funding for assistance programs must remain a priority for Congress in order to ensure that all individuals and families who are facing homelessness will have a place to call home. Detailed below are programs and legislation I have supported in order to combat the homelessness crisis.

Promoting Quality, Affordable Housing  & Combatting Homelessness in our Community

Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

Opening Doors is a comprehensive strategy designed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The plan is meant to quickly identify and engage those at risk of homelessness, while intervening to prevent them from losing their homes. The plan provides people with immediate access to shelter and crisis services should they lose their homes. I have signed on to support its continued funding in FY 2018 which includes:

  • Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program
  • Health Care for the Homeless Program
  • Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) Program
  • Grants for the Benefit of Homeless individuals (GBHI)
  • Services in Supportive Housing (SSH) Grants
  • The Homeless Veterans’ Program
  • Transitional Housing Assistance Grants for the Victims of Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking Program

Combatting Veteran Homelessness: Supports for the HUD-VASH Program: I support the HUD-VASH Program and supported increased funding from FY 17. I recognize that the causes of homelessness, especially for veterans are numerous and complex. That is why in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, I included an amendment to make it easier for veterans to request discharge upgrades without having to travel to Washington, D.C. to speak with a board. This simple change should increase access to VA benefits like mental health care and housing programs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress 

Forging Partnerships: McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants Programs and the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act: The McKinney-Vento grant programs and the HEARTH Act, provides assistance to identify and fund housing needs and coordinate the federal response to homelessness, while providing resources during emergency situations. I have co-signed a letter in support of full funding of McKinney-Vento Grants and implementation of HEARTH Act.

Treat the Opioid Crisis – The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (CARA): I co-sponsored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2015 because this approach is needed to address the heroin and opioid addiction epidemic which has a profound effect on homelessness. This legislation would implement better prescription drug monitoring, improved law enforcement tactics, and expanded treatment for addicts.

Keep Tenants in their Homes – Permanently Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2017: Co-sponsor of this bill which requires that landlords provide at least 90 days’ notice of any possible eviction to responsible tenants that have made their payments but are being kicked out of their homes due to the landlord being unable to make their payments.  

End the Abuse of Our Homeless Youth – The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act: Our homeless youth population is among the most vulnerable to sexual exploitation or abuse. In order to help strengthen child protection services and provide relief, the act provides street outreach, education, counseling, temporary shelter as well as transitional longer-term housing. I strongly support reauthorization of this program.

For more information on this issue, sign up to receive Congressman Smith’s email updates.

More on Housing