||A publication of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
|Lawyers Working to End Homelessness
||Vol. 6, No. 10
||From Maria's Desk
Earlier this month the U.S. House of
Representatives held hearings and heard
testimony about the reauthorization of the
McKinney-Vento Act - legislation that has not
been reauthorized since 1992. While the
programs have grown and changed over the
years, through Congressional appropriators
and the Department of Housing and Urban
Development, the Congressional committees
responsible for overseeing the directions of
the program have been somewhat inactive until
The hearings were a welcome change. The
Committee members were engaged, informed and
interested. Now we must make sure that they
hear from their constituents across the
country and take action to pass legislation.
NLCHP, the National Coalition for the
Homeless, the National Coalition for Homeless
Veterans, the National Network to End
Domestic Violence, the National Policy and
Advocacy Council on Homelessness, Volunteers
of America, and many other organizations have
endorsed the Homeless Emergency Assistance
and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act.
But we also support key provisions of the
Community Partnership to End Homelessness Act
(CPEHA), a bill now pending in the Senate.
We feel that differences between the bills
are being bridged and that advocates should
focus on asking their legislators to support
the most important parts of the HEARTH and
CPEHA Acts. Ultimately we want the resulting
legislation to that includes the best of each
here to learn more about the two bills.
It is critical that the HUD McKinney-Vento
programs be reauthorized and we finally have
an opportunity to make it happen. We can
significantly expand the act and the
authorized funding amounts which would lay
the groundwork for increased appropriations.
While we largely prefer the HEARTH Act,
either bill is an improvement over the status
Let's get a bill passed now. Then let's move
to an agenda beyond the McKinney Act. Let's
guarantee a human right to housing.
here to read about our annual Forum on the
human right to housing.
||House and Senate McKinney Bills Offer Differences, Similarities
Earlier this month, NLCHP's Executive
Director testified at a Congressional hearing
about the reauthorization of federal homeless
assistance programs administered by the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD). Members of Congress
heard testimony from advocates, service
providers, researchers, and government
officials about the current status of HUD
programs under the McKinney-Vento Homeless
Assistance Act and their views on potential
legislation to reauthorize the programs.
The hearings illustrated both the
similarities and differences between the
HEARTH Act (H.R. 840) and CPEHA(S. 1518).
Both bills seek to codify the Continuum of
Care planning process and provide more
flexibility in program activities. Permanent
housing for homeless families, which is not
currently an eligible activity, would become
allowable under both bills. Additionally,
both bills would provide an increase in
funding, with the HEARTH Act authorizing up
to $2.5 billion annually and CPEHA
authorizing up to $2.2 billion annually.
However, key differences exist between the
two bills. Under HEARTH, local entities
charged with planning how the address
homelessness would be required to include
homeless advocates, service providers, and
homeless persons in the planning process. In
CPEHA, similar provisions were removed last
month when the bill was passed out of
committee. NLCHP supports the requirement
ensuring consultation with key stakeholders
and is working with other national advocates
to seek inclusion of the requirement in the
Senate bill before it goes to the Senate floor.
Other significant differences between the two
bills include their definition of
homelessness and priority for funding. Under
HEARTH, HUD's current definition of
homelessness would be expanded to more
closely align with the definition currently
used by the Department of Education. CPEHA
also would expand the definition, but not as
broadly as HEARTH. In particular, someone
living doubled up for economic reasons would
only be counted as homeless under CPEHA's
provisions if the person has changed primary
residences at least 3 times in the past year
or at least twice in the past 21 days. NLCHP
supports the broader definition.
In addition, HEARTH would not create funding
set-asides for any populations, whereas CPEHA
would set-aside at least 30% of funds for
serving disabled persons and at least 10% for
serving homeless families. NLCHP supports
greater discretion for local communities, but
supports language to ensure hard-to-serve
populations receive at least some housing and
CPEHA contains two important provisions not
currently in the HEARTH Act. The first would
provide renewal funding for permanent housing
from the Housing Choice Voucher program.
This provision would provide a more stable
source of renewal funding for permanent
housing programs and would guarantee that
more McKinney funding could be used for new
programs each year. CPEHA would also
prohibit, in most cases, the break-up of
due to shelter restrictions that prevent
male children over a certain age from staying
with their families. NLCHP supports both
provisions and will press for their inclusion
in the final legislation.
For more information, see www.nlchp.org
or e-mail NLCHP Policy Director Laurel Weir
at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 202-638-2535.
||National Forum on the Human Right to Housing: November 5
NLCHP will host a National Forum on the Human
Right to Housing on Monday, November 5 that
will link 5 locations across the nation via
videoconference. There will be training
locations in Washington, DC; Chicago; New
Orleans; Minneapolis; and Los Angeles.
The training will allow advocates nationwide
to discuss the human rights strategies they
are using to advocate on behalf of homeless
and poor women, men, and children. Activists
at all of the locations will be able to share
their experiences with advocating for human
rights and learn from one another.
By hosting the training in multiple
locations, NLCHP hopes to draw substantial
regional audiences beyond those with the
means to travel to DC for the Forum.
This training is available through
generous support from the Mertz Gilmore
Foundation, the US Human Rights
Fund, and Holland & Knight LLP.
here to register for this cutting-edge
||South African Judge Shows What A Right to Housing Means
On August 29, South African Safety and
Security Minister Charles Nqakula was
found to be in contempt of a court order and
committed to jail after failing to rebuild a
homeless encampment burned down by police
officers under his supervision. The South
African Constitution recognizes a right
to housing and lawyers are showing what a
difference that right can make.
In this particular case, lawyers brought a
case on behalf of the homeless people living
on vacant land in Moreletapark after police
officers burned down their homes and attacked
the residents. Pretoria High Court judge
Bill Prinsloo gave police 12 hours to
rebuild their shacks. Eight days later,
after the police took no action, the judge
ordered Security Minister Nqakula committed
to jail and imposed a fine of R10 000. The
judge suspended the order for two weeks,
giving the Minister time to make amends.
The U.S. could benefit from this example and
the commitment to housing rights that
underlies it. For example, earlier this year,
the St. Petersburg police destroyed a tent
village, by slashing their tents and throwing
them in dumpsters
here to view the video.
To date, there has been no action taken
against the police officers.
To learn more about how a right to housing
would function in the U.S., you can attend
Forum on the Human Right to Housing on
November 5, where U.S organizations will be
discussing how they have applied human rights
strategies to affordable housing and
Thanks to the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and
the U.S. Human Rights Fund for their support
of the Human Rights program at NLCHP.
||Support NLCHP Through the Combined Federal Campaign
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) offers a
quick and simple way to support NLCHP's
critical work. The CFC is a program sponsored
by the U.S. government that allows federal
employees to easily and securely make
donations to national and local charities.
Employees can choose charities off a list of
thousands by using the U.S. Office of
Personnel Management website. There are
options to make a one time donation or to
have a certain amount deducted from each
paycheck throughout the year. Within the CFC
there are several federations set up around
various themes. NLCHP is a part of the Human and Civil
Rights Organizations of America (HCROA),
a federation geared specifically towards
organizations that advocate for rights both
in the United States and abroad.
NLCHP would appreciate your support during
this campaign. Your generous donations ensure
that the needs of our most vulnerable
citizens are met. If you are a federal
employee and would like to donate, NLCHP's
code is CFC #11947.
NLCHP would like to thank last year's CFC
donors for their generous support.
||Welcome to NLCHP's New Domestic Violence Staff Attorney
Welcome to Kathy Zeisel who is NLCHP's
new Domestic Violence Staff Attorney. Kathy
provides technical assistance and training to
domestic violence attorneys and advocates and
to housing attorneys and advocates around the
issue of domestic violence and housing.
Kathy is also developing impact litigation
around discrimination against domestic
violence victims in the housing context.
Prior to joining NLCHP, Kathy was the Queens
Supervising Attorney for the Courtroom
Advocate's Project at the Center for
Battered Women's Legal Services, Sanctuary
for Families, Inc. in New York, where she
did direct representation for victims of
domestic violence in family and matrimonial
She received her J.D. degree from New York
University School of Law. As a student,
Kathy helped found Law Students for Human
Rights and was an International Law and Human
Rights scholar at the Center for Justice in
International Law in Costa Rica. Kathy also
represented several battered women in
immigration cases and uncontested divorces.
Kathy received her undergraduate degree from
Georgetown University, and was subsequently a
Georgetown Public Interest Fellow at
Cambridge Family and Children's Service in
||Thanks to Our LEAP Firms
LEAP is a national legal community
philanthropic effort to help homeless and
poor American achieve self-sufficiency. LEAP
members provide financial support and pro
bono legal services to help NLCHP prevent and
NLCHP would like to welcome to our newest
LEAP member, Latham & Watkins LLP. Latham
has a stong tradition of pro bono involvement
and community support and we welcome the
firm's participation in our critically
important LEAP initiative.
Click here for
more information about the firm.
NLCHP would also like to thank our current LEAP
Baker & Hostetler LLP; Fried, Frank, Harris,
Shriver & Jacobson LLP; Goodwin Procter LLP;
Hogan & Hartson LLP; Jenner & Block LLP;
Jones Day; Morrison &
Foerster Foundation; O'Melveny & Myers LLP;
Sidley Austin LLP; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP;
Visit our website at www.nlchp.org! Contact us at (202) 638-2535 or email us at
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