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Homeless Children Offer Subcommittee a Glimpse of Barriers to Housing Help

January 09, 2012

A Congressional subcommittee heard testimony from a panel of current and former homeless children as it examines government barriers that prevent many homeless youth from receiving housing assistance.

The Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity is examining how conflicting definitions of “homeless person” in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act make it more difficult for children and youth to obtain housing assistance. Passed by Congress in 1987, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act established federal homeless assistance programs and provided the first statutory definition of homeless persons.

Subcommittee Chairman Judy Biggert said, “Children living in shabby motels or jumping from couch to couch deserve help, too. Every child should have a safe place to sleep at night and a chance at a brighter future. That’s what this hearing is all about, and I hope my colleagues will listen closely to the stories these young witnesses, who have come from all over the country, will tell us.”

A study released Tuesday by the National Center on Family Homelessness says one in 45 children in the U.S. experience homelessness annually.

The Subcommittee also discussed H.R. 32, the Homeless Children and Youth Act, introduced by Chairman Biggert. H.R. 32 harmonizes the conflicting definitions of “homeless person” in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. As a result, H.R. 32 would not only increase the number of children and youth who could receive housing assistance and services, it would also allow the Department of Housing and Urban Development to more accurately estimate the number of homeless persons in the United States.

Witnesses:

Panel I:

  • Brandon Dunlap, Chicago, IL
  • Rumi Khan, 6th Grade, Lamberton Middle School, Carlisle, PA
  • Brittany Amber Koon, PFC, Fort Hood, TX
  • Brooklyn Pastor, 7th Grade, William Paca Middle School, Shirley, NY
  • Destiny Raynor, 9th Grade, Winter Springs High School, Sanford, FL
  • Starnica Rodgers, Truman College, Chicago, IL

Panel II:

  • Alicia Puente Cackley, Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • Maria Estella Garza, Homeless Liaison, San Antonio Independent School District
  • Mark Johnston, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, Office of Community Planning and Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Barbara Poppe, Executive Director, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
  • Grace Whitney, PhD, MPA, IMH-E(IV), Director, Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Office, Connecticut State Department of Education

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