Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 23, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I rise today to introduce the Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act, which would establish a new Federal grant program to increase capacity for comprehensive supportive services paired with housing as a way to address our country's homelessness crisis.

As we have seen with the growing diversity of our homeless populations--individuals with mental health conditions or those struggling with addiction, people who simply could not keep up with increases in rent, families with children, and veterans--our Nation's homelessness crisis is not going away on its own without coordinated efforts at every level of government.

According to the data released in December from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are approximately 582,500 homeless individuals, including families with small children, in the United States. Nearly 30 percent of this population is in California, with approximately 172,000 homeless people sleeping on the streets on any given night.

In a nation as prosperous and wealthy as ours, we can and we must do better to address the issue of homelessness.

That is why I am introducing the Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act, which would authorize a new Federal funding stream of $1 billion per year, subject to annual appropriations. Grantees must serve individuals or families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by providing housing paired with a comprehensive set of services and must provide a 25-percent match for any Federal funds received.

Because each individual and every community is unique, the grant program would be flexible in order to work in any region or for any homeless population.

This bill is based on a model that has proven to be effective and supports the great work already being done across the country, allowing local governmental entities and nonprofit organizations to expand their capacity and ensure a greater reach by putting Federal dollars where they will be most effective.

I am proud that this legislation is supported by a wide coalition of local governments, housing, health, and child welfare organizations, including the mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment, National League of Cities, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Association of Counties, National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the National Housing Conference.

Supportive services such as mental and physical health care, substance abuse treatment, education and job training, and life skills such as financial literacy are critical components. Paired with intensive case management, supportive housing models make a difference.

We have seen the success of such partnerships in San Francisco, where the GLIDE Foundation provides critical services that meet an individual's basic needs, including meals, crisis intervention and prevention, childcare and educational programming, legal advice, and housing.

This would not be possible without the organization's partnerships with the city of San Francisco, particularly the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and other critical stakeholders. I highly encourage my colleagues to examine this exemplary homeless services model to see firsthand how effective partnerships can help to combat homelessness.

It is imperative that we support these types of partnerships, as well as nonprofit service providers, as they work to get people into housing to both mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and address their long- term needs.

I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting the bill and moving it through the Senate, especially as we continue to contend with the increase in homelessness.