Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A National Shame

The National Center on Family Homelessness releases its report today on child homelessness. The numbers are devastating.

  • 1.5 million children are homeless each year

  • 34% of the nearly 3.5 million Americans that experience homelessness are families

  • the recession and housing foreclosures are likely to increase those numbers
These children are disproportionately African-American and Native-American

They suffer from emotional and physical diseases, such as asthma, traumatic stress and emotional disorders.

Texas ranks number 50 in how it provides for homeless children - last!
There are a number of recommendations made by the NCFH to deal with this national tragedy:

  • Fund 400,000 new Housing Vouchers at $3.6 billion for two years to provide the lowest income households with rent assistance.

  • Fund the homelessness prevention component of the Emergency Shelter Grant program at $2 billion for two years to prevent low-income households from becoming homeless and to rapidly re-house those that do lose their homes; 400,000 households will be assisted.

  • Set aside one-third of housing vouchers, National Housing Trust Fund resources, and other housing program resources for homeless families and families who are at risk of homelessness (50% of the Federal Poverty Level).

  • Fully fund Subtitle B of Title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431) at $210 million to ensure that every homeless child can enroll in and attend school, and receive the services they need to succeed.

  • Adopt the proposed $2 billion for the Emergency Shelter Grant and ensure that 30% ($6 million) is dedicated to trauma-informed services for children and families. Invest $3 billion into child care vouchers for children experiencing homelessness so that they can receive the early care and education they deserve, and so that their parents can engage in employment, job training, and other activities to lift their families out of homelessness.

  • Expand the TANF contingency fund so that states are able to provide cash assistance to the increasing number of very poor families.

  • Provide a temporary increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, which states should implement within 30 to 60 days of enactment
Millions of children are in crisis. They really are all of our children. If you think we can't afford to do something, I'd say we can't afford not to.

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