Law Center Testifies in Favor of Surplus Property Statute
July 27, 2011
Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, testified July 27 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is considering several legislative proposals that threaten Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Title V benefits approximately 2.4 million homeless people annually.
"This is not the time for Congress or the administration to reverse its commitment to low-income Americans," Foscarinis told the committee.
Since McKinney-Vento's passage in 1987, Title V has given qualified homeless service providers the legal right to receive suitable vacant, underused, and surplus federal real property at no cost. The program links non-profit organizations and state and local governments in need of land or buildings with federal agencies seeking to divest themselves of excess property.
Some members of Congress and the administration are seeking to suspend or eliminate the program, attributing the federal government's struggles to unload surplus property to Title V. However, difficulties selling properties more often stem from their deteriorating conditions, inaccessible locations, and systemic problems with government marketing after the Title V right of first refusal window expires.
In her prepared testimony, Foscarinis noted, "the conclusion that Title V unreasonably delays federal surplus property sales is not supported by fact."
At the hearing, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told Foscarinis, "You are a great witness to the fact there are other considerations than maximizing profit."
The Law Center's written testimony is available here. Foscarinis also testified on surplus federal property before a Senate subcommittee in June.
If your organization or an organization in your community has acquired surplus federal property, you can help protect Title V by providing information about how the property is used to serve homeless people. To share information, please contact the Law Center's policy director, Jeremy Rosen, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also ask that you contact your members of Congress and urge them to preserve Title V of the McKinney-Vento Act, so that homeless services providers can continue to make valuable use of excess government property for critical homeless services.