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H.R. 4057THE SAMARITAN
INITIATIVE ACT OF 2004
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity,
Committee on Financial Services,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:02 a.m., in Room 2128, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bob Ney [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Ney, Baker, Hart, Tiberi, Renzi, Waters, Sanders, Watt, Frank, Scott, Davis. Also present were Representatives Stark and Matheson.
Mr. RENZI. [Presiding.] Good morning. This hearing of the Subcommittee on Housing will come to order. I thank my neighbor, Mr. Scott, for attending.
This legislation, guided by the Interagency Council on Homelessness, creates a collaborative grant that authorizes the VA, HHS and HUD to pool their resources and to work together to provide housing with supportive services to those experiencing chronic homelessness.
In May of this year, Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Mansfield testified before the VA committee on the issue of homelessness and assistance programs for our nation's veterans and the status of the goal to end chronic homelessness. The Deputy Secretary explained that they work in a variety of venues with many partners at the federal, state and local levels, and with faith-based and other community providers. Most notably, he states that only through such effective and extensive collaborations, combined with innovation, can the opportunities for success be maximized.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Approximately 150,000 to 200,000 people nationally are categorized as chronically homeless. There is so much great need in this community that unfortunately this population consumes a disproportionate amount of emergency resources, specifically in shelters, emergency rooms and hospitals. These costs are being incurred by communities year after year. One research study followed 15 chronically homeless adults and discovered that in 18 months they had made 299 trips to hospital emergency rooms at a cost of $967,000 to the community public health system. The cost of providing supportive housing is substantially offset by the savings of not having these individuals continue this cycle.
Additionally, the quality of life for both the individuals and the communities are vastly improved. One of the misunderstandings of chronic homelessness is that it is not just an issue for the urban areas, but also affects the rural areas. In Yavapai and Coconino Counties in my home State of Arizona, we have over 2,000 estimated people who are chronically homeless. To this end, I am pleased today to see Stephanie Buckley on the witness list. Ms. Buckley serves as site director for the U.S. Veterans Initiative in Prescott, Arizona.
U.S. VETS is the largest organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless veterans. It is a nationally recognized leader in the field of service delivery to veterans. U.S. VETS offers housing, case management and employment assistance to hundreds of homeless veterans in and throughout Northern Arizona. Their career center has placed over 70 percent of our veterans in competitive employment. Their outreach teams visit the parks, forests and shelters throughout the area to offer our services and make veterans aware of our program.
I am happy to see this introduction of the Samaritan Initiative has begun, and that we will together today discuss the effects of the homelessness. As we hear today, many groups will have additional needs and they would like to see this bill addressed. However, I am pleased that this legislation has garnered solid support by individuals and groups, including the Enterprise Foundation, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, National AIDS Housing Coalition, National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the Association for Service Disabled Veterans, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the National League of Cities, and the United States Conference of Mayors.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I look forward to the testimony of the witnesses and thank each of you for coming all the way here to Washington. Let me begin with the recognition of members's opening statements for 3 minutes, and recognize Mr. Scott.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you very much, Mr. Renzi. I want to thank Chairman Ney and Ranking Member Waters, and of course you, Mr. Renzi, for presiding over this important hearing. I also commend the fine job that you are doing in your work in dealing with housing, especially with some of our Indian population and populations in the Western United States.
Chronic homelessness is an extraordinarily important issue. In metro Atlanta in the area that I represent and other Georgia cities, we are currently implementing 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness. I believe that the resources discussed in this hearing today could further the efforts in Georgia and this nation to address these community needs.
In December 2002, the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta convened a 16-member Commission for the Homeless, led by retired King and Spaulding law partner Horace Sibley. The Commission was co-chaired by civic leader Myrtle Davis and Dr. Leon Sullivan, president emeritus of the Morehouse College of Medicine. The Commission carried out a comprehensive and exclusive process that included, one, reviewing plans that had already been developed locally; two, collecting data from service providers, faith and other community leaders and government representatives through one-on-one interviews and surveys, and incorporating findings from local and national research studies on homelessness conducted by Deloitte Consulting.
In addition, the Commission's efforts were supported by working groups comprised of more than 90 individuals representing 64 organizations. The Commission used this information and compiled data in combination with input from the community to design a framework for practical, fundable solutions. At the end of February 2003, the Commission unveiled the Blueprint to End Homelessness in Atlanta in 10 years.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These efforts were complemented by a tremendous effort in the community led by Duane Ackerman of BellSouth and other corporate and civic leaders to truly address and get underneath the problem of homelessness. While I do support efforts to specifically target chronic homelessness, I also believe that this committee should focus on eliminating all homeless populations altogether. To that end, I am a cosponsor of the National Housing Trust Fund, H.R. 1102, which will provide funding for 1.5 million units of affordable housing over the next 10 years.
I am also concerned with the loss of $1.6 billion from the Section 8 housing voucher program. We could provide better assistance to help families become self-sustaining, and we could not find a better way of doing it than helping them with rental assistance. These cuts are misguided and they should be reversed.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to this morning's testimony.
Mr. RENZI. I thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from Vermont, Mr. Sanders.
Mr. SANDERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this important hearing on an issue of great significance to our country.
As I understand it, the Samaritan Initiative authorizes $70 million to provide permanent housing services for the homeless, with the goal of ending chronic homelessness within 10 years. Mr. Chairman, that is a goal that I certainly applaud and I see no reason for anyone to oppose this bill. Anything that Congress can do to reduce homelessness in this country is a step forward and should be strongly supported.
But Mr. Chairman, let us not delude ourselves: $70 million within the context of the problem of homelessness and affordable housing in this country is not a real solution to the affordable housing crisis that our country is experiencing. And I might add, at the same time that the Administration is supporting a new $70 million program to combat homelessness, it is also lobbying Congress for a $1.6 billion cut in the nation's most important affordable housing program in this country, the Section 8 rental assistance program. So it is fine that we are adding $70 million for chronic homeless services, but cutting $1.8 billion for affordable housing more than negates that $70 million.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Administration's Section 8 budget for fiscal year 2005 is $1.6 billion for what is needed to renew all existing Section 8 rental assistance for some two million families. This means that up to 250,000 low-income families, senior citizens and people with disabilities are in danger of losing their homes or being thrown out on the street, including 740 families in my own small State of Vermont. In other words, if the Administration's Section 8 budget is approved, more people in this country will experience homelessness even if the Samaritan Initiative is signed into law. I cannot quite follow the sense of that, of putting some money to help people not be homeless at the same time you are creating more homelessness over there. We are taking from Peter to pay Paul.
Mr. Chairman, as you well know, there is an affordable housing crisis in this country. More than 14 million people are paying over 50 percent of their limited incomes on housing; 3.5 million in this country will experience homelessness this year, including 1.35 million children and 500,000 veterans.
Mr. Chairman, there is a solution, a serious solution to this problem. I have introduced and now have 213 tripartisan cosponsors on the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This legislation has been endorsed by over 5,000 organizations throughout the country. This legislation would provide the resources necessary to construct, preserve and rehabilitate at least 1.5 million affordable housing units over the next decade, and would lead to the creation of 1.8 million new jobs. Mr. Chairman, that is a serious solution to address the housing crisis.
Thank you very much.
Mr. RENZI. I thank the gentleman for his words.
Mr. Stark, did you want to introduce your witness, or have any comments?
Mr. STARK. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for affording me the privilege of visiting with you in this distinguished committee today. I am very pleased. Probably it is little known, but I used to sit on this committee some 30 years ago, and have enjoyed watching the committee do excellent work in the area of housing.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are faced today with a serious problem, and it is my privilege to introduce Mr. Michael Pucci, the executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda. It is a city of 72,000 people, home formerly to the Alameda Naval Air Station. We have 1,600 Section 8 housing vouchers and almost 600 units. I think Mr. Pucci has been in this business over 30 years, if I am not mistaken. It is vitally important, through changes that we are trying to correct, and probably going to cause an increase in homelessness. I guess I would consider it penny-wise and pound-foolish. We have an established system. I certainly know that in California it has been the premier method by which we have been able to provide housing for those less fortunate. We have the situation of having extremely expensive housing, for which many of us who are fortunate enough to own a house should be very thankful, but for those who cannot, it just exacerbates their problem.
So along with Mr. Pucci and the City of Alameda, I have been working with the members of this committee and you, Mr. Chairman, and others to see if we could not encourage HUD to be a little more generous in this program, perhaps carry us for another year while we find a solution that would be more suitable. I hope that this distinguished committee can reverse some of the changes or moderate them that are being made in the Section 8 law to protect those. I think that Mr. Pucci and his colleagues at the witness table, I think we will hear a lot of discussion about what we could do in a very modest way relative to the total federal budget to help many of our constituents.
Again, I appreciate your interest. I know that the State of Arizona will be well served. I thank you again for allowing me to introduce Mr. Pucci. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RENZI. I thank the gentleman from California.
The gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Tiberi.
Mr. TIBERI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for your leadership in introducing this legislation. I am pleased to be a cosponsor with you in this effort.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is my pleasure to introduce a friend of mine from Columbus, Ohio, from my community, who is the executive director and has been since 1995 of the Community Shelter Board. Barbara Poppe has over 20 years of experience in working in the nonprofit, homelessness and housing-related organizations. The Community Shelter Board is a nationally recognized nonprofit in charge of funding, planning and coordinating prevention, shelter and housing to end homelessness in Columbus and Central Ohio, Franklin County. Barbara received the 2003 Buddy Gray Award for homeless activism from the National Coalition for the Homeless. She received the 2002 citizens of the year award from the Central Ohio Public Relations Society of America. She has published and presented on various homeless research topics, including strategies to end homelessness, needs assessment, chemical dependency treatment and employment and training.
Mr. Chairman, we are really lucky to have Barbara here today. She has done more for ending homelessness and more for the homeless in Central Ohio than anyone in the history of Columbus. On a personal note, she is a very wonderful person and it is a treat to have her here today. Barbara, thank you so much for spending time here in DC to share your experiences with us.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Tiberi.
We will go ahead and introduce the witnesses now. I am grateful to have all of you here. Panel one consists of Ms. Stephanie Buckley. Ms. Buckley is the director of United States Veterans Initiative, Inc. in Prescott, Arizona. She is also served the State of Arizona as a child protective services case manager.
Mr. Robert V. Hess is the deputy managing director for special needs housing, Adult Services, for the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. James Mauck is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities and Communities Services, Archdiocese of Denver, and is testifying on behalf of Catholic Charities USA, Volunteers of America, and Lutheran Services in America. Catholic Charities is a nationwide alliance of Catholic groups working to alleviate the daily struggles of our country's less fortunate.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Mitchell Netburn is the executive director for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, or LAHSA. LAHSA is a joint powers authority created by the City and County of Los Angeles and is responsible for planning, funding and coordinating local homeless programs.
Ms. Barbara Poppe, as Mr. Tiberi just introduced, is the executive director for the Community Shelter Board of the City of Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio, where she has been working for the last 5 years. Prior to her current position, Ms. Poppe served as executive director for Friends of the Homeless and served as assistant director for the University of Cincinnati's Department of Environmental Health.
Mr. Mike Pucci is the executive director for the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda, California, a good Italian American, welcome. Ms. Nan Roman is the president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1983 by a group of community leaders with the mutual goal of ending homelessness. And Mr. Donald Whitehead, who is the executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, which is the nation's oldest and largest advocacy organization that works exclusively with and on behalf of people experiencing homelessness.
I welcome each of you and I am grateful you have come all this way. Without objection, your written testimony will be part of the record. Each of you will be recognized for 5 minutes to summarize your testimony. We will begin with Mrs. Buckley.
STATEMENT OF STEPHANIE BUCKLEY, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' INITIATIVE INC., PRESCOTT, AZ
Ms. BUCKLEY. On behalf of the United States Veterans Initiative, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the recommendations on H.R. 4057, which we hope will assist programs serving homeless veterans.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have been operating at the Prescott site since January 16, 2003. In that time, we have been able to serve 206 veterans in most of Northern Arizona, which is a rural area. Seventy-four percent of our veterans leaving our program have been able to be successfully discharged into homes or apartments. We have been able to find 112 jobs in a rural area for our veterans. Two of our residents have been able to complete their college degrees since being in our program.
Every year, we are able to outreach to over 900 veterans in our area through forests and deserts and the 20 different organizations in Northern Arizona. As the representative mentioned, there are over 2,000 veterans in Yavapai and Coconino Counties alone. U.S. VETS has had a positive impact on the domiciliary, which we are co-located. The domiciliary has increased in capacity from 75 percent to 92 percent, and the length of stay in the domiciliary has decreased from 120 days to 98 days.
U.S. VETS supports any measure that will provide assistive programs for the homeless, particularly those making provision for our homeless veterans. H.R. 4057 introduced by Representative Rick Renzi is a valuable opportunity for rural communities to address the homeless veterans that sleep on our streets every night.
We do have some concerns. The $10 million appropriated by the VA to perform its functions in the multi-department collaboration program is set up simply as a directive to the VA, earmarked previously authorized funding for treatment of homeless veterans under medical care, rather than a separate and distinct authorization. This really does nothing to increase the care of homeless veterans. We recommend a new line item authorized for the Samaritan services within the VA medical care, rather than a $10 million redirection of existing VA specialized homeless service programs. The VA component of the Samaritan program should not be funded at the expense of existing programs which are already overstretched and underfunded.
The legislation required applicants to provide 25 percent non-federal cash or in-kind match in years one and two, and a steep 50 percent in year three and beyond. These match levels suggest that the grant programs are targeted to already well-funded applicants or municipalities. Even relatively large nonprofits like my own, with many collaborative agreements and local providers, would have considerable difficulty raising such amounts, and small community-based and faith-based organizations are very unlikely to generate such a sizable match.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The authorization of treatment and supportive services in the measure do not even mention the rehabilitation, prosthetics or other services that may be especially critical to the homeless veterans that this very bill is targeted. The list of eligible treatment and supportive services should be expanded to include the authorization for assistance to chronic homeless persons to obtain mainstream benefits such as VA disabilities, veterans compensation, veterans healthcare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security disability insurance, food stamps, temporary assistance for needy families, and legal aid.
[The prepared statement of Stephanie Buckley can be found on page 65 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Ms. Buckley.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT V. HESS, DEPUTY MANAGING DIRECTOR FOR SPECIAL NEEDS HOUSING, ADULT SERVICES, CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, PA
Mr. HESS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am appearing before you today to provide testimony in support of the proposed H.R. 4057, the Samaritan Initiative. I firmly believe that the Samaritan Initiative would be an important component that our nation needs in order to achieve the goal of ending chronic homelessness.
For 20 years, people working with and on behalf of people experiencing homelessness have seen the same faces on the streets and in our shelters. For 20 years, we have been tirelessly trying to engage the men and women experiencing chronic homelessness. We have made significant strides in this endeavor, but we need to do more. By creating a new investment source dedicated to funding chronic homeless programs, this legislation would enable us to do more of what we already know needs to be done and frankly what we already know works. Without it, cities like Philadelphia will continue to see the same faces on our streets and in our shelters for another 20 years.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to take just a few minutes this morning to talk about the Philadelphia story. In Philadelphia, we were fortunate enough to have the strong leadership of Mayor John Street recognize years ago that addressing chronic homelessness and street sleeping is something we can and should and must do as a community to make our city even stronger.
You see, just a few short years ago, there were 824 individuals sleeping on the streets of center city Philadelphia. Last week, there were 147. What has happened in these intervening years has been a focus and a commitment to eliminating the need for anyone to sleep on the streets of our city that has been unparalleled. We brought tremendous resources to bear locally. We have learned a tremendous amount about what works and what does not.
But that is only part of the story. I think one of the more interesting parts of the story is that in the first 2 years of our efforts, we were able to reduce the street population by 50 percent. Then we hit kind of a lull. The numbers stayed about the same. The intervention strategies that worked so very well for the first half or 50 percent of the folks living on our streets were not working. So we scoured the country for best practices for research to help us focus in on new strategies, new tools for our toolbox, if you will, that would allow us to assist additional people to move off the streets.
What we came across were Housing First programs in Los Angeles and New York and in other places, with years of research behind them, that showed that if you brought people into permanent housing with the proper set of supports, you really could help them move from the streets into permanent housing once and for all, and stop the cycle of folks moving through our shelters and onto our streets. People that in some cases have been on our streets for 10, 15, 20 years are now living in their own apartments doing extraordinarily well.
That is what this initiative is about. Yes, it is modest. Yes, $70 million will not end all of our problems. It is not adequate even at that. But it is a major step in the right direction, to help us move the remaining folks that are on our streets, off of our streets and into their own apartments and out of our many, many systems that are extraordinarily expensive from hospitals to courts to prisons and back to the streets again.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We know this technology works. We now know how to end the need for any individual in this country to sleep on our streets. We know the technology. We know how to do it. What we have lacked are the resources, the political will and the commitment to do it. This bill takes us a step in that direction, and for that we are extraordinarily grateful and supportive.
Some will say that we need to put more into families, and certainly we do. That is probably a discussion for another bill and another day. But from our view, the City of Philadelphia's message is, we know what works; we know how to end chronic homelessness; we deserve to do it; it is a national disgrace that should have been done many years ago. But now given that knowledge and the technology, we need the political will and the resources to follow in a way that will allow us to move the last couple of hundred people off of our streets.
We look forward to that day and we hope to be the first city in this nation to have accomplished that lofty, but important goal.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Robert V. Hess can be found on page 71 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Mr. Hess, thank you for that story. I appreciate it.
STATEMENT OF JAMES MAUCK, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CATHOLIC CHARITIES AND COMMUNITY SERVICES IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF DENVER, TESTIFYING ON BEHALF OF CATHOLIC CHARITIES USA, VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA AND LUTHERAN SERVICES IN AMERICA
Mr. MAUCK. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Waters, members of the subcommittee, my name is Jim Mauck. I am president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver. Today, I am testifying on behalf of Catholic Charities USA, Volunteers of America and Lutheran Services in America.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As faith-based providers of housing and supportive services, we believe that our national community has a moral obligation to end homelessness for all Americans. We thank the subcommittee for its attention to this serious problem.
The focus of my testimony will be the critically important needs of homeless families and children. I will begin by drawing the committee's attention to four facts that taken together have important implications for the Samaritan Initiative and for the homeless policy in general.
Fact one, the population of homeless families is large and growing. According to the best data, about one million children in families suffer homelessness every year. Recent shelter surveys indicate that family homelessness is on the rise.
Fact two, homelessness has a devastating impact on family and children. The effects of homelessness range from the increased incidence of acute chronic health problems to high rates of failure in school. Less widely appreciated is the impact on family stability. When families lack adequate housing, child welfare agencies often step in to separate children from their parents. Over 10 percent of homeless children end up in the foster care system, while 30 percent of foster kids could be reunited with their families if their housing problems were solved. This intervention is costly. The average annual cost of foster care is about $45,000 per family. This is roughly four times the cost of providing permanent supportive housing.
Fact three, a substantial percentage of homeless families with children endure repeated or long-term homelessness. According to the landmark Urban Institute study of homeless populations, 21 percent of homeless mothers with children have been homeless at least three times, while 39 percent have been homeless for periods ranging from 7 months to over 5 years. In other words, large numbers of homeless families suffer chronic homelessness.
Fact four, members of these families often suffer from domestic violence or sexual abuse, mental illness, chronic substance abuse or other disabling conditions. Intensive support services must therefore play a critical role in helping families to stabilize and make progress toward self-reliance. One-third of homeless women have experienced recent domestic violence. Among homeless mothers with children, over half report mental health or substance abuse problems. In the experience of our agencies, families often cycle through repeated episodes of homelessness because they have not received mental health care, substance abuse treatment, or other supportive services that they need.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These four facts have important implications for the Samaritan Initiative. The Samaritan Initiative is part of a new model of how supportive services for homeless persons are going to be funded, what types of services will be funded, and who will be eligible for these services. Most federal homeless assistanced is now distributed by HUD through the McKinney cometittive grant programs. Yet HUD has announced its intention both to reduce McKinney funding for supprtive services and to restrict this funding to only four basic types of srevices: outreach, case management, lif skills training, and housing counseling. The Samaritan Initiative is intended in part to meet the expectation that other federal agencies such as HHS and VA must replace HUD funding for substance abuse, mental health care, and other supportive services for homeless persons. Yet the Samaritan Initiative in its current form would fund supportive services only for homeless individuals. Our concern is that these combined policy changes will effectively reduce the availability to homeless families of a wide range of critical services.
Accordingly, we recommend the following revisions to the Samaritan Initiative. First expand eligibility to include homeless families with children. The Samaritan Initiative relies on a definition of a chronically homeless person that categorically excludes families with children, even families with disabled members who have suffered often repeated and extended periods of homelessness. This critical exclusion, combined with policies being advanced by HUD, will hinder the efforts of homeless service providers to assist many homeless families with children in their struggle to achieve stability.
Two, shorten or eliminate the durational requirement of the Samaritan Initiative eligibility to clients who have been homeless for at least 1 year or have experienced four episodes over a period of 3 years. On both moral and policy grounds, we should move people out of homelessness as quickly as possible, not to perpetuate it by denying them assistance they need simply because they have not been homeless long enough.
I would conclude with the following. Families are young and their children are our future. They come to us with complex multiple problems, yet our experience has shown that they can be helped. Within families, hope can be rekindled. Children and parents can be nurtured and they can build better lives for themselves and for their communities. We will all benefit if we make it our task to help them.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
[The prepared statement of James Mauck can be found on page 88 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Mr. Mauck, thank you.
STATEMENT OF MITCHELL NETBURN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LOS ANGELES HOMELESS SERVICES AUTHORITY
Mr. NETBURN. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Waters, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. My name is Mitchell Netburn. I am the executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, known as LAHSA. Thank you for the invitation to provide testimony.
LAHSA and the City of Los Angeles readily endorse the Samaritan Initiative because it will continue a successful collaborative model that will help us reach the national goal of ending chronic homelessness. It is estimated that 80,000 men, women and children are homeless throughout Los Angeles County on any given night. Of those, we estimate that at least 10 percent can be considered chronically homeless.
In November 2003, Los Angeles began a strategic planning process to end homelessness throughout the county in 10 years. Led by Supervisor Burke and Mayor Hahn, a total of 10 elected officials convened a 60-member blue ribbon panel of community leaders to oversee the development of our plan, which will be adopted this fall. Los Angeles is committed to ending homelessness.
In the past year-and-a-half, for the first time ever the City and County of Los Angeles have contributed over $10 million to turn a temporary winter shelter program into a year-round program which serves a high percentage of chronic homeless people and is operating at 103 percent capacity. In 2003, 1,108 clients were placed in transitional housing and 685 were placed directly in permanent housing. These outcomes clearly show that homeless people, even chronically homeless people, want a home.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To reach others, we need new models. Last year, as a precursor to the Samaritan Initiative, 11 grants funding such a new model were awarded nationally through the Interagency Council on Homelessness under the collaborative initiative to help end chronic homelessness. Among the grantees was a skid row collaborative comprised of 11 agencies. Skid row is located in the eastern part of downtown Los Angeles and has the largest concentration of street homelessness in the United States. Approximately 10,000 people live in this area.
I am pleased to report that the project has met its goal to house 70 percent of its clients within the first 6 months of the program. This model works. The promise of this intense collaborative can be seen in the experience of participants such as Gloria, who is mentally ill. She was engaged by the team this spring, who also helped complete the paperwork needed to access her Shelter Plus care unit. Despite numerous challenges, she was one of the first people housed in this program. Gloria sees the on-site psychiatrist and nurse, maintains her appointments, and has increased social skills. She is even humorous at times. She pays her rent and she has gained so much trust that she recently self-reported her first experience with drugs to our case manager, who was able to deter her from further use.
Gloria and others like her could not have attained this level of success without the consistent and coordinated efforts of the collaborative. The chronic homeless initiative, by providing funding and requiring local collaboration among diverse agencies, ensured that this could be the case. While we fully support continuing this model through the Samaritan Initiative, I would like to share some concerns with you.
Our primary concern is that the funding authorized in this bill is not sufficient to meet the Administration's goal of ending chronic homelessness. The collaborative initiative provided a total of $35 million nationally. We are fortunate in Los Angeles to have been one of 11 recipients of this funding. The Samaritan Initiative proposes to double that amount of funding. However, let me make the crude assumption that if Los Angeles successfully competes for this new funding, it will receive twice the amount it received under the chronic homeless initiative, allowing us to help 124 people over 3 years. While we would be grateful to have these additional funds, it would only allow us to help a fraction of the chronic homeless population.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To truly end chronic homelessness, we have to be realistic about the costs. Congress must increase the authorized and appropriated levels of funding for the Samaritan Initiative if our country is to meet the Administration's goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years. We also request that the Samaritan Initiative ensure that the participating federal agencies take to heart the directive to collaborate. The initiative sets forth the expectation to collaborate, but offers to the maximum extent feasible and appropriate. We suggest removing this language.
As much as we appreciate the Administration's bold commitment to end chronic homelessness, we cannot lose sight of the significant needs of homeless people who do not meet the federal definition of chronic homelessness. We do not believe that the Samaritan Initiative's focus on chronic homelessness will make it more difficult for us to reach our goal of ending all homelessness, provided resources are not diverted to help end chronic homelessness.
For this reason, LAHSA supports additional funding provided by the Services to End Long-Term Homelessness Act, the National Housing Trust Fund, and adding an additional $150 million to the fiscal year 2005 homeless assistance grants budget. Because the Housing Choice voucher program is one of the most important tools we have for ending homelessness, we strongly oppose the Administration's proposed cuts. It is estimated that California would lose 35,000 vouchers and the city 5,000.
Mr. Chairman, your subcommittee came to Los Angeles last year to hear public comment on the Administration's proposal to convert the Housing Choice program to a block grant. It met with widespread opposition and Congress rejected it. We respectfully request that Congress reject the Administration's proposed cuts.
In conclusion, housing coupled with supportive services is the key to ending chronic homelessness and lays the foundation not only for rebuilding individual lives, but for restoring vitality to communities that have been neglected. By supporting H.R. 4057, the esteemed members of this committee have the opportunity to bring the vision of ending chronic homelessness in America closer to reality.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mitchell Netburn can be found on page 106 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Netburn.
STATEMENT OF BARBARA POPPE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY SHELTER BOARD, COLUMBUS AND FRANKLIN COUNTY, OH
Ms. POPPE. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Waters, Congressman Tiberi and other distinguished members of this subcommittee, I am Barbara Poppe, executive director of the Community Shelter Board in Columbus and Franklin County, Ohio.
As the lead organization charged with our community's plan to address and end homelessness, we thank you for the opportunity to testify this morning. I bring greetings from Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman who endorses both the Samaritan Initiative and services to end long-term homelessness act. My testimony is offered as one of 11 recent grantees under President Bush's collaborative initiative to end homelessness, the prototype for the Samaritan Initiative Act.
Our community has found that affordable housing drives success at all levels. For the family or individual, it represents the foundation for success in other areas: employment, health and wellness, education and community involvement. For the community, affordable housing drives success in improving neighborhoods and business districts. Affordable housing is the obvious solution to both chronic and short-term homelessness.
While services are important, we have found that without affordable housing, services cannot be successful. While integration of mainstream resources is important, without housing integration is not successful. While discharge planning is important, without access to affordable housing discharge plans fail. Success begins by addressing affordable housing needs first.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 1998, our community's plan to end homelessness was issued. Known as Rebuilding Lives, it outlined a better, more targeted system that provides both emergency housing for those in crisis and supportive housing for those with long-term needs. Our goal is to develop 800 units of permanent supportive housing. Since July 1999, we have created just over 450 units, as well as another 125 or so in development. The units have been a mix of new construction, rehab and leasing. Just under half of these units receive a Section 8 rent subsidy. One-quarter are public housing units and the balance are other subsidies, including McKinney-Vento.
Almost one-half of the operating and services costs are covered by local public and private funds. Just over half are federal funds. The newest Rebuilding Lives project is funded by the collaborative initiative. It is known as the Rebuilding Lives PACT Team initiative. It serves men and women who have experienced chronic homelessness and have serious and debilitating illnesses that prevent them from living independently. We are developing just over 100 housing units. We hope to house over 150, including almost 50 who will be veterans. It is a multi-agency partnership providing a multi-disciplinary team of professionals that is implementing evidence-based practices to deliver services.
To date, we have served 42 individuals and of those, 37 are already housed. Most are between the ages of 46 to 61. One-third are women. Thirty percent are veterans and more than three-quarters have at least a high school degree. We have documented results from 5 years of Rebuilding Lives implementation. There are individual stories like the 81-year-old man who was recently featured in the Sunday Columbus Dispatch for competing in the Senior Olympics. The little-known fact is, prior to entering our rebuilding lives supportive housing, he had been stuck in the shelter system.
Another gentleman, Max, is a frequent and notorious downtown panhandler and experienced long-term homelessness. Today, he is a resident of the Rebuilding Lives supportive housing program at the YMCA and he is the greeter at the door, welcoming me each morning to my morning workout. I am sure you would agree you would rather have Max greet you at the door than be on the streets panhandling.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Other results are our changes in the system of care, such as through the collaborative initiative, where we have decreased the processing time for an SSI application from more than 6 months to just a few weeks. Another example just recently occurred when an overnight shelter for homeless men closed. Through a coordinated case management team, we successfully placed 75 men into market-rate, affordable and supportive housing in just a 90-day period.
Overall program evaluations of our rebuilding lives initiative have successfully documented that we are effective at ending homelessness. The overall tenancy exceeds a year-and-a-half, and overall rates of turnover are less than 20 percent a year. But in order to achieve the President's stated goal of ending homelessness by 2012, we believe that we will need not only new HUD and HHS funding to realize the recommendation of the Millennial Housing Commission and the President's New Freedom Mental Health Commission, which call for the creation of 150,000 units of supportive housing, but we also must maintain existing programs such as the McKinney-Vento programs, as well as the housing voucher program.
The Samaritan Initiative will help combat chronic homelessness. We applaud the initiative's call for new funding. The Samaritan Initiative is truly a very positive step in our collective goal to end chronic homelessness. The availability of new federal housing and services dollars in a single funding stream means that local communities can more effectively implement a comprehensive strategy to provide services coordinated with permanent housing. We also, though, do agree that the funding level proposed falls short of the stated goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2012.
We also support the Services to End Long-Term Homelessness Act, to be introduced by Representative Burr, continued funding for McKinney-Vento programs, and also affordable housing production. But most important, I need to call your attention to the President's proposal to cut the voucher program. It threatens more than half of our Rebuilding Lives units, and with deeper cuts proposed through fiscal year 2009, we believe this will contradict the Administration's stated goal of ending homelessness. Rebuilding Lives offers the best approach to addressing chronic homelessness, but without a fully funded voucher program, we will lose ground.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We thank you for the opportunity to testify today.
[The prepared statement of Barbara Poppe can be found on page 111 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Thanks, Ms. Poppe.
STATEMENT OF MIKE T. PUCCI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF ALAMEDA, ALAMEDA, CA
Mr. PUCCI. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Waters, members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify this morning. I would also like to thank Congresswoman Lee for inviting me to testify, and also Congressman Stark for his help in trying to resolve our Section 8 problems.
While the primary thrust of this hearing is about the Samaritan Initiative and finding adequate means to prevent homelessness, I am here to address the recent changes to the Section 8 housing choice voucher program and the impact those changes are having on our community and Section 8 participants who are now at risk of becoming homeless.
The City of Alameda is a community in the San Francisco Bay Area of approximately 72,000 population. This is an expensive place to live. Rents here are some of the highest in the nation. The low-income members of our community depend upon the Section 8 housing choice voucher program to stay in this community near friends and family members who provide critical support. In addition to the over 1,600 families that we serve through the Section 8 program, we have a list of 6,000 additional families waiting for assistance. HUD's failure to pay on an actual cost basis and its failure to fund our reserves resulted in the housing authority no longer having enough money to pay for 1,625 authorized vouchers. This situation has put 108 families at risk of becoming homeless on August 1.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The situation is having a direct impact on these families. Recently, Malika Nassirrudin, a young woman who has lost her assistance, testified before the Alameda City Council. She said, ''I do not want to port out to another county that is getting ready to endure the same hardships. The uncertainty is physically and mentally draining for me and my family. My son's social behavior is declining. He hesitates to make new friends in Alameda. He likes it so much. It is hard to lose good friends and moving around is not fun.''
Another young man named Anthony, a single parent of a teenaged son, told me this past year it was the first time he and his son were able to live together. The Section 8 voucher allowed him to get a decent place to live so he was able to get custody of his son. This was the best year of both of their lives. If he loses his Section 8 voucher, he will lose his housing. If he loses his housing, he will lose custody of his son. We need to help these families and the other 106 families at risk of becoming homeless.
In 2001, the Bay Area experienced a really tight housing market. Rents were increasing faster than the fair market rents. Section 8 landlords did not want to accept housing vouchers at that time. They would rather get families that were working and able to pay the full amount of rent and full amount of security deposit. As a result, we were grossly under-leased and HUD had recaptured about $4 million in the years 2002 and 2003.
By late 2002, though, the market had softened and voucher holders started to lease-up. By the end of the fiscal year, the Housing Authority was 98 percent leased-up, but HUD had used all of our Housing Authority's program reserves to pay for the increased leasing costs. Even though we were not over-leased for fiscal year 2003, HUD has failed to replenish our reserves, even though they are required to do so by their own regulations. This has exacerbated the underfunding situation and directly impacts these 108 families.
During this fiscal year, the housing market continued to be soft and voucher holders continued to lease-up. Our turnover rate declined dramatically, and for the first time we are over-leased. Despite the softer market, costs for the program continue to rise because of increases in utility rates, decreases in family income, portability moves to higher-cost areas, reasonable accommodations provided to the disabled, and several other reasons.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On May 6, the Housing Authority received a call from the HUD San Francisco office telling us that our June 1 housing assistance payment check from them would be reduced by approximately $800,000. Well, we were faced with having to terminate all of our families at that point because we did not have the money to pay for housing assistance payments. We had been paying for payments using our own reserves throughout the fiscal year, and this was the last month of our fiscal year and we had no other choice. But our City Council and our Board of Commissioners said, well, we do not want any terminations to occur. Therefore, use all Housing Authority reserves to pay for this shortfall, which we did. As a result, nobody went without on June 1.
However, later in the month of May, we got notice of what our funding would be for July 1 under the renewal formula. Under the renewal formula, we were facing a $200,000 shortfall. Roughly, that meant we had to terminate over 200 families for housing assistance. We could not do that either, so we did have to send out termination notices. But we were able to make up that shortfall. Right now, we are looking at 108 families that are going to be terminated as of August 1 in case something is not done.
We are looking to HUD for more funding under the renewal formula. We are looking to HUD to replace our reserves so we can help these families. But these families need our immediate help, and if nothing is done by August 1, these families are going to be facing evictions and will be homeless.
[The prepared statement of Mike T. Pucci can be found on page 137 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Pucci.
STATEMENT OF NAN ROMAN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ALLIANCE TO END HOMELESSNESS
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. ROMAN. Mr. Chairman, Ms. Waters and members of the subcommittee, on behalf of the board of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, I am honored to be here today to testify in support of the Samaritan Initiative. In deciding to support the Samaritan Initiative, of course, we had to be realistic about what it might accomplish. It is not designed to address homelessness overall: other bigger programs do that. It does not appear, with its limited resources and scope, that passing the Samaritan Initiative alone will end chronic homelessness. But while recognizing that it is not a silver bullet, we do believe that the Samaritan Initiative is a needed and useful program that can help communities end chronic homelessness.
In 2000, the National Alliance to End Homelessness announced a pragmatic new template for ending homelessness in 10 years. One of the things we pointed out was that the existing homelessness system was not working very well for one particular group of people who were staying homeless for years on end. For this group of chronically homeless people, a strategy of permanent supportive housing has proven to be very effective, and 150,000 units of such housing would be needed, we believe, to end chronic homelessness. If spread over 10 years, this would be a modest 15,000 units per year, a doable national goal.
The cost after 10 years, when all of the housing is in place, we estimate to be approximately $1.2 billion per year in rent subsidies, with a similar amount for services. Before you have a heart attack, much of this cost we think can be offset by savings to health, corrections and shelter systems. There will indeed be a need for upfront investment and, of course, we appreciate that savings in one area does not always necessarily translate into resources that are available in another area. Nevertheless, it seems to us that ending chronic homelessness is something that we can and should do.
As communities across the country have begun to develop and implement their plans with respect to ending chronic homelessness, they have faced many challenges. The Samaritan Initiative addresses some of these problems. First, by providing targeted resources, it encourages communities to take on this difficult task. Second, it provides flexible resources, allowing communities to utilize the federal funds as gap fillers, and it models an important level of federal coordination.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Samaritan Initiative additionally provides funding for many of the activities that will have to be undertaken if chronic homelessness is to be ended. It funds outreach. It provides capital to acquire housing units. It funds operating and rent subsidies and it provides flexible funding for services.
In my written testimony, I have suggested a few changes to the Samaritan Initiative which we believe would make it even more effective. These involve bringing the amount of service funding more in line with the amount that is dedicated to housing, and also adjusting the match provisions to better leverage mainstream, state and local service dollars. Of course, additional steps are going to have to be taken if we are going to achieve the Administration's goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years. In particular, prevention measures and additional housing and services resources will have to be put into place.
As other people on this panel have mentioned, one critically important additional source of housing subsidy which impacts chronic homelessness is the Section 8 voucher program. This program is important to ending chronic homelessness for three reasons. First, it prevents people from becoming chronically homeless by keeping them in housing. Second, Section 8 vouchers are being used now in many communities, as you have heard, to pay the rent on apartments for chronically homeless people. For example, right here in the District, I sit as a volunteer on the board of a new nonprofit, Pathways to Housing, that in accordance with the city's just-announced plan to end chronic homelessness, is using Section 8 vouchers to house chronically homeless, chronically mentally ill people. Of our first two tenants, one had been on the street for 10 years and the other had been on the street for 20 years. So I know that Section 8 can end chronic homelessness.
Finally, the availability of rent subsidies is essential to attract capital for the development of supportive housing. For example, Fannie Mae has recently committed to provide capital financing and pre-development loans for supportive housing to chronically homeless people. Reliable rent subsidies like Section 8 must be available to access these private funds.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is therefore with great alarm that we view the Administration's actions and proposals around Section 8. They simply are in direct contradiction to their own goal of ending chronic homelessness. We urge Congress to fully protect and fund the Section 8 program. Further, if you really wanted to end chronic homelessness, a relatively simple way to do that would be to create a dedicated pool of housing vouchers that would be linked to capital to create the balance of the 150,000 units of permanent supportive housing that we need to end chronic homelessness.
Mr. Chairman and Ms. Waters, the National Alliance to End Homelessness supports the Administration's goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years, although of course not at the expense of or to the exclusion of ending homelessness for other homeless people. We support the Samaritan Initiative and we urge you to authorize it. We extend our gratitude to the subcommittee for taking on this difficult task, and we look forward to continuing to work with you on the goal of ending chronic homelessness.
[The prepared statement of Nan Roman can be found on page 142 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Ms. Roman, thank you.
Mr. Whitehead, thanks.
STATEMENT OF DONALD WHITEHEAD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS
Mr. WHITEHEAD. Thank you.
Chairman Ney, Ranking Member Waters and other distinguished members of the committee, it is an honor to be asked to testify today on H.R. 4057, the Samaritan Initiative Act of 2004. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today with many of my esteemed colleagues to offer insight on this proposed legislation.
I am Donald Whitehead, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, the nation's oldest and largest organization that works exclusively with and on behalf of people experiencing homelessness. The National Coalition for the Homeless, like many of our partners, is deeply concerned about the recent growth of homelessness across America. We are pleased that the Interagency Council on Homeless is coordinating with other federal agencies to respond to the growing needs of homeless individuals. This coordination is essential as we work together to end homelessness.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The number of people experiencing homelessness continues to grow unabated and new resources are required to meet the demand, but those new resources cannot come at the expense of reduction to existing programs. The Samaritan Initiative would be funded at the expense of the McKinney-Vento homeless assistance program. The President's budget proposal for McKinney-Vento is $1.26 billion. It is estimated that $1.3 billion is required to maintain the programs at their current levels.
Leaving the program at fiscal year 2004 levels still leaves us with a huge amount of unmet need. In fiscal year 2004, HUD had to turn down $273 million in Continuum of Care requests due to lack of funding. Instead of using resources to start new programs, we should be concentrating on fully funding the programs that already exist. The McKinney-Vento program offers greater flexibility in geographic targeting and eligibility of participants, while also targeting the chronically homeless population. Furthermore, by putting this money in McKinney-Vento, the administrative costs associated with starting and administering a new program can be avoided and more people can be served.
The Samaritan Initiative is only available to people experiencing chronic homelessness, and the government definition of ''chronically homeless'' applies only to unaccompanied homeless individuals with a disability who have been continuously homeless for a year or more or who have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past 3 years. While this is an important population to serve, this definition excludes families who have experienced long-term homelessness, and families are the largest-growing sector of the homeless population. Families now represent 40 percent of the homeless population. Even families whose head of household is disabled are excluded from the Samaritan Initiative.
This targeting issue is one I feel very strongly about, for both personal and professional reasons. Ten years ago, I was forced to utilize the services provided by the McKinney-Vento program. Had my ability to access those services been limited to the narrow definition of ''chronically homeless'' in this legislation, I would certainly not be here testifying today and there is a very high probability that I would in fact not be alive because I would not have qualified for these services.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Furthermore, we object to the codification of this definition of ''chronic homelessness.'' There is widespread disagreement among practitioners about the definition of ''chronic homelessness'' as well as the ethics and practicality of using this definition to deliver services. Congress should not put this definition into statute.
We are also concerned that this initiative on its own does very little for its target population: $10 million in the Department of Health and Human Services to be distributed across 50 states for people with complex health and mental health needs is woefully insufficient.
In addition, this program provides only 3-year grants followed by the option to reapply for another 3 years of funding at half the amount. The people who will be served by this initiative have, by definition, severe mental health and physical disabilities. In order to remain in permanent housing, they will likely need supportive services for the rest of their lives. If funding is cut off, they are at risk of becoming homeless again.
We applaud the drafters and sponsors of this bill for their recognition that both supportive services and affordable housing are necessary to end homelessness, but we question the effectiveness of earmarking $50 million for affordable housing production, while at the same time cutting $1.6 billion from the Section 8 housing voucher program. As long as the Section 8 program is in crisis, we cannot end homelessness in this country.
In conclusion, any initiative to end homelessness or chronic homelessness in this country must be forward-thinking and comprehensive and it must include the production of large amounts of affordable housing. There are two such initiatives in the House of Representatives right now, both of which have more sponsors than H.R. 4507. These are the National Housing Trust Fund, H.R. 1102, which would provide funding for 1.5 million units of affordable housing over the next 10 years, and the Bringing America Home Act, H.R. 2897, which is a comprehensive bill to end homelessness in this country. The Bringing America Home Act includes housing, healthcare, economic justice, and civil rights provisions. A list of endorsers is attached to my testimony and we ask that it be entered in the record.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We appreciate the recognition by this committee that ending homelessness must be a priority in this country, but the Samaritan Initiative in its present form is not an effective way to accomplish that goal.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.
[The prepared statement of Donald Whitehead can be found on page 150 in the appendix.]
Mr. RENZI. Thank you for your insights.
Before we move to questions, I want to move to our ranking member, Mrs. Waters of California.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much, Chairman Renzi. I thank you for the introduction of the legislation and your chairing of this hearing today.
This is a very important hearing. I suppose we are all here to review the homelessness issues, including those that are particular to the chronically homeless. As you have heard today, there are approximately 80,000 people who are homeless each night in Los Angeles. Many of them are concentrated in Central and South-Central Los Angeles. A hugely disproportionate number of these homeless are African American. A larger segment of the homeless than in the general population is disabled.
There has also been an explosion in the number of families with children experiencing homelessness. Simply put, in Los Angeles and many communities throughout America, we have a crisis and the problems are getting worse.
Chairman Renzi, there are several technical questions raised by this legislation. I am pleased that we are covering some of those questions today, especially the issue of whether the definition of ''chronically homeless person'' that is used in the Samaritan Initiative improperly excludes families with children, even those families with disabled members.
I am pleased that some of our witnesses are exploring whether we need to expand the definition of homelessness to reach unstable housing situations where families with children are living doubled-up with extended family members or others who are willing to provide them with shelter temporarily. I, too, believe that we should be using the broader definition of homelessness employed by the U.S. Department of Education so that families lacking fixed, regular or otherwise adequate housing would be eligible for programs even if they are not living on the street or in a shelter.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also I believe that the services funding authorized by this bill is grossly inadequate to meet the needs of those who would be covered by the initiative. The services funding should be substantially increased by at least an additional $45 million as the U.S. Conference of Mayors has requested.
Mr. Renzi, as important as these technical questions are, I submit that there are far larger policy questions that we must address. Respectfully, I submit that there is somewhat of an Alice in Wonderland quality to the Administration's discussion of these issues. The Administration appears to believe that the issue of homelessness can be considered in isolation from the broader issues of poverty and affordable housing production.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth. How can anyone seriously believe that we can achieve the worthy objectives of this initiative by authorizing a total of $70 million in funding, at the same time that the Administration is proposing cuts of $1.6 billion in the Section 8 voucher program, cuts that if implemented would result in a reduction of 250,000 Section 8 vouchers.
The impact of the cuts to the Section 8 program, if implemented, surely would result in a tremendous increase in homelessness and make it all the more difficult to achieve the Administration's professed goal of ending homelessness in 10 years. It is clear that the Administration's Section 8 policies are dislocating households and forcing many public housing authorities to raise rents and lower subsidies to needy seniors, persons with disabilities, and families with children.
The funding level proposed by the Bush Administration will result in 250,000 vouchers being funded if housing authorities choose to maintain the current level of subsidy for those vouchers that they do maintain. If housing authorities choose instead to maintain the same number of vouchers currently authorized nationally, the average Section 8 tenant to rent would have to rise by an average of about $850 per year. In Los Angeles, the City Housing Authority would have to issue 5,336 fewer vouchers and the County Housing Authority would have to issue 2,457 fewer vouchers if they choose to make up the funding shortfall by reducing the number of vouchers that they fund.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If they issue the same number of vouchers, the City of Los Angeles would have to raise the average tenant's rent by $933 per year and the County Housing Authority would have to raise the average tenant's rent by $977 per year in order to absorb the impact of the Bush Administration's proposed funding level.
Mr. Renzi, the National Low Income Housing Coalition has prepared an impact matrix that explains how public housing authorities around the country are responding to the Administration's destructive Section 8 housing policies, including HUD's April 22, 2004 notice announcing changes to HUD's Section 8 payment policies. I believe this document is crucial to obtaining a realistic understanding of the state of affordable housing in this country. I ask that it be made a part of the record of this hearing.
Mr. Renzi, you do not get close to your destination by taking one step forward and 10 steps back. I know that is not you, because you are trying to move this process forward, but I have to be very honest with you, the Samaritan Initiative cannot be divorced from the broader issues of affordable housing policy. Most housing experts believe that an incremental 150,000 housing units will be required in the next 10 years to end chronic homelessness for those who are currently experiencing it. Yet, I see no evidence that the Administration has any plan to produce the units required.
During the questioning period, I want to find out, and I will be asking Mr. Mangano, to provide the details and explain just how the Administration proposes to create the 150,000 incremental housing units that would be required to address the supportive housing shortfall for the chronically homeless. To me, the numbers just do not add up.
Mr. Chairman, I know that an awful lot of work is taking place in Los Angeles and many other communities around the country to develop, with community input, 10-year plans to end homelessness, a project that Mr. Mangano is championing. I certainly recognize the value of a planning process and community input. Yet if our goal truly is to end homelessness, we must be prepared to devote the resources required to make such plans a reality. The plans are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If we end up producing carefully considered, well-developed plans that simply gather dust on a shelf because we are unwilling to devote the resources required to implement them, then we need to ask why we went to the trouble of creating the plans in the first place. In my view, we must not offer simple solutions. We need to fully fund the Section 8 voucher program and support affordable housing initiatives like the National Affordable Housing Trust that can produce the supportive housing required to address homelessness.
I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses today. Again, I know, Mr. Chairman, that you are very much concerned, as I have witnessed the work that you are doing in your own district, not only with the homeless but with the Indian population, and have a great appreciation for that. I think that you are on the right track, but we have a long way to go.
Thank you very much.
Mr. RENZI. I thank the gentlelady and I appreciate her comments and agree with a lot of her insights.
We are going to move to questions now. We will alternate back and forth. Each member has 5 minutes and we will start with Mr. Tiberi.
Mr. TIBERI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Poppe, thank you for your testimony. Can you expand a little bit more on what you experienced when you first took the helm of the Community Shelter Board in 1995? What I mean by that, when I was in the legislature starting in 1992 in Columbus, Ohio, the in-vogue way to deal with homelessness was just to warehouse the homeless in Columbus. Through your leadership on the Community Shelter Board, you obviously have a much different approach. I have toured your facilities and seen that approach. Can you explain how that transition occurred in Columbus and how that is occurring nationally, and what we can do here in addition to this legislation to help you at the local level?
Ms. POPPE. Yes, thank you for your kind words and the question.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In Columbus and Franklin County, we were facing a situation where downtown economic development was likely to displace two major shelters serving homeless men, as well as areas along the riverfront where homeless folks were congregating and sleeping outdoors. So we received a charge from our Mayor, along with County Commissioners and the United Way of Central Ohio which asked us to undertake a study to see if there were different ways to approach homelessness, and specifically to address the needs of those persons who would be impacted by the displacement of those facilities and the reconstruction.
That resulted in a period of intensive research where we looked at our homeless management information system data, which went back to the early 1990s, along with best practice research. Together, we formed a plan that included input from our providers. It included input from those who had been consumers. It also had a strong constituency within our neighborhoods who were very concerned about homeless people on the street, but also did not want to see facilities developed in their neighborhood, kind of the ''not in my backyard'' approach
We also had the support of the downtown business community and all of our elected officials. What that resulted in was the community came together across all party lines, across all ways of doing things, and committed on a path to improve emergency services. So we developed three new emergency facilities which replaced the two outdated facilities. We had a better system to deal with those who were publicly inebriated. We increased our outreach and intake processes.
But the centerpiece of it was the development of permanent supportive housing. I can tell you that having worked in Columbus for all these years, there are people that I was told could not be housed. They simply wanted to be homeless and this was their lifestyle choice. It is no great surprise, but they are today housed and successfully in supportive housing. They are working. They are dealing with their mental health issues.
So it has become a real point of pride for our community, whether it is our Commissioners who are very invested in the success of it, or our Mayor or City Council. It has become a point of pride in our community. We have also successfully dealt with the issue of NIMBY and have developed good neighbor agreements that help assure projects operate successfully.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It has very, very much changed the way we address homelessness in our community and I believe it is a model for other communities that can be adopted and addressed. We were able to do this because we had strong local support and local investment of city and county tax revenue, as well as the private sector support, and then strong support from the federal government through the various federal housing programs.
Mr. TIBERI. What can we do? The Samaritan Initiative is a pilot program. What else can we do, in your eyes, to help the Columbuses and Franklin Counties of America?
Ms. POPPE. I certainly believe the Samaritan Initiative is very good, and a first step in dealing with chronic homelessness. Beyond that, the single most important issue to us really is how we deal with the voucher program and preserving and expanding that. It is incredibly successful at addressing chronic homelessness, whether we use them as tenant-based or attached to actual projects like the Commons Grant, which is our newest downtown supportive housing development.
Beyond that, we do need resources for services to help stabilize families as well as individuals, and we do need to all work together and put aside some of our outdated notions about what an emergency shelter is or what a transitional housing program is. There are many things we have learned in the last 20 years, and some of those things we do need to cast aside and to move forward in a new, more effective and targeted way.
Mr. TIBERI. You mentioned the voucher program. Can you comment to me, in your opinion, there is an issue of the cost of the voucher program. In dealing with the issue of homelessness and chronic homelessness, do you believe that the federal government can do a better job? What I mean by that is, invest federal dollars in the voucher program in a way that we can long-term save dollars by getting people to be productive and self-sufficient through what you have done with supportive services?
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. POPPE. We have seen that the voucher program, by providing a rent subsidy, enables us to take in individuals who have no income at the time of intake into supportive housing. In fact, 85 percent of the folks have no income. What they are able to do is by stabilizing their lives, they are over time able to increase that income. We have had folks who have moved up to being able to fully pay their rent. There are other individuals, frankly though, whose serious mental illness is such that full-time work is not really going to be something that they can do, but it is at a lower cost than was long-term institutionalization or their excess use of emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals.
I do believe there probably are some administrative savings possible within the voucher program. I do not believe those administrative savings will amount to $1.6 billion, such that we can save all of the existing units. We are very concerned that the program moves forward and we do not lose ground, but we also need to expand the supply of affordable housing.
Mr. TIBERI. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, just one final point. Ms. Poppe, you do believe, though, that with the proper use of the voucher program that we can actually, not everybody, there is no question about that, but I have seen it in Columbus where someone will be homeless, and rather than just warehousing them, providing them with supportive services and the housing, that potentially, in fact it has happened, people can become self-sufficient.
Ms. POPPE. Absolutely. We do see folks become self-sufficient. We do see about 10 percent of supportive housing residents actually graduate from the program into a larger unit. Often it is because they have a job and they want a better apartment near their job or they are reunifying with their family. So success does occur even with those who are the most disadvantaged and difficult to otherwise serve.
Mr. TIBERI. Thank you.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Tiberi.
I would like to recognize the Ranking Member from our full committee, Mr. Frank of Massachusetts.
Mr. FRANK. I thank the Chairman.
My question is for Ms. Roman. I thought you made the point very well in your testimony when you said one critically important additional source of housing subsidy impacting chronic homelessness is the Section 8 voucher program. The program seems to me very well structured, except that it misses an important semantic point. ''Homeless'' means people do not have homes.
Now, we should also be clear here, and I am glad to have this chance to underline this, we are talking about homes, not homeownership. Homeownership is a good thing, but for many of the poorest people in this country most of the time they will not be able to own homes. A policy that looks only at ownership and not at home occupancy is flawed.
Now, for low-income people it seems to me the Section 8 program is very important. Here is my question. If we were to adopt this bill today and it went into effect, but the current policy regarding Section 8 vouchers stayed the same, how much of a dent would we be making in homelessness?
Ms. ROMAN. We would probably have more homeless people if the Section 8 voucher policies that are proposed went into effect. It appears to us that the Samaritan Initiative would support, it runs over 3 years, so it would support about 2,500 units a year. If it kept being appropriated at the level that is requested, it could ultimately support a maximum of 7,500 units per year. So we would stand to have a much greater net loss if we lose the vouchers that we are anticipated to lose, as other people on the panel have described.
Mr. FRANK. Let me ask another question of everybody here. One of the arguments we have seen, and I will address this to Mr. Mangano later because he talked approvingly of the Administration's proposal to restructure Section 8. As Secretary Jackson has said, the problem is the Section 8 program is costing us too much money, partly because the people we are helping are too poor. He points out correctly that you pay 30 percent of your income for Section 8, and people with very little income are thus more expensive than people without because there is a bigger gap to be made up.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If we were to act on Secretary Jackson's proposal that we re-target Section 8 and try to hit a higher income level, obviously still below the 80 percent, how would that interact with this program? Let me go down the list here. Let me start on the left, ma'am. Do you favor Secretary Jackson's argument that we should reorient the targeting of Section 8 to get a higher income group of people?
Ms. BUCKLEY. No, especially not in rural Arizona. That would be missing probably 85 percent of the veteran population that my project serves. They just do not meet the threshold that he has set forth, so it would increase the homelessness in Arizona.
Mr. FRANK. Okay. Thank you. Next?
Mr. HESS. It would be problematic. It would certainly be very challenging. It is already challenging to find an adequate number of affordable housing units for people at the lowest income ranges. We see people in our shelter system that typically are 15 percent of mean and below, and it is almost impossible to move them into affordable housing without subsidy. So it would be a movement in the wrong direction.
Mr. FRANK. Next?
Mr. MAUCK. The elimination of public housing in many communities has really put an additional stress on Section 8 as we know it. The change in the income levels merely exacerbates the problem. We have not really raised people's income at the lowest end that are in fact enjoying the benefits of Section 8 housing. So I think you exacerbate the problem and ultimately it will create more homelessness.
Mr. FRANK. Thank you. Let me just interject here, and I am glad you mentioned the public housing situation. I am not happy that we have the situation. I am glad you mentioned it. One of the things Secretary Jackson pointed out was that the Section 8 program has now, to his dismay, become a much larger percentage of the overall HUD budget. But it has become a larger percentage of the HUD budget partly because it has grown, but partly because almost everything else has shrunk. Section 8 is a larger part of the HUD budget because public housing and other construction programs are not there. So I think that is exactly right. We have put a greater burden on Section 8 at the same time we lament the fact that it is growing.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Yes, sir, next?
Mr. NETBURN. I concur that it would definitely create more homeless people, particularly in Southern California, especially in Los Angeles. There is an extremely low vacancy rate. Housing costs are extremely high. It is challenging enough for us as it is now to house all the people that need housing. With the loss of this program, I am really not sure what we would do with those very low-income people who would not be eligible for the Section 8 program.
Mr. FRANK. Yes?
Ms. POPPE. We would absolutely see homelessness increase in Columbus and Franklin County. Just to give a perspective, the typical homeless family has less than $200 a month that they can afford to pay for housing, and the typical two-bedroom apartment costs over $650. So we are already facing a $450 a month gap.
Mr. FRANK. Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent just to let the last three witnesses answer, if that is okay.
Mr. PUCCI. Mr. Frank, I have been administering the Section 8 program for about 27 years, back in the days when we could assist families up to 80 percent of median income. I believe that if we were to go back to that that it would seriously impact those folks who are below 35 percent of median income. It would increase homelessness. If we are not going to be assisting them, who else is?
Mr. FRANK. Ms. Roman?
Ms. ROMAN. We have homeless people because people cannot afford housing. So if we remove the primary subsidy program for low-income people to be stable in housing, we will definitely have more people homeless.
Mr. FRANK. Mr. Whitehead?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. The chronically homeless initiative is based on the idea that people can move quickly through the system. If the Section 8 housing program is not funded at an adequate level, it will definitely increase the number of homeless people. We have already started to see some effects in programs that have partnered with their local housing authority. People are already starting to not be able to utilize vouchers.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FRANK. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I will summarize. I just want to reemphasize. I am not making this up. It is a repeated theme of Secretary Jackson that the way to fix the Section 8 program is to help people with higher income. I think that the contrast between that and a professed concern for the homeless is so glaring that I appreciated the chance to be able to talk about it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Frank.
We have been joined by the Chairman of our Subcommittee on Housing, Mr. Ney. I want to first of all thank you for allowing me to chair and also for bringing forth the legislation. I recognize you.
Chairman NEY. Thanks for the job you are doing, and the job you are doing today chairing this, and also the legislation you have worked on. I know it is appreciated in all parts of the country.
I have a couple of questions, for whoever wants to answer it. What about de-institutionalization? I am talking about the State of Ohio because I was a State legislator. We were involved in that. I am not saying institutionalization is good as a wide brush, but the process of de-institutionalization in the United States, with persons that have some form of a problem when it comes to some form of mental illness, is that still making the situation worse, to create homelessness?
Ms. POPPE. I can speak first from the Ohio perspective, which is that because we have been so many years into the process of de-institutionalization, what we are seeing is the after-effect of that, which is that there are many, many individuals who are homeless and who have never had the chance to be institutionalized because it happened so long ago. But they do not have adequate community services, nor do they have adequate housing.
We are still in the process of further downsizing our psychiatric hospitals. One of our newest rebuilding lives projects is actually targeting those who have been institutionalized on a step-down basis. What we are able to see is that they are able to over time be sufficiently housed in a pretty low-demand situation, in permanent supportive housing.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So very much supportive housing is a really cost-effective alternative to institutionalization. It only costs us about $14,500 a year to house someone in supportive housing. I know that in-patient psychiatric hospitalization exceeds costs of $80,000 to $90,000 a year. But we simply have not had that investment of those dollars translate into affordable housing with community services.
Chairman NEY. You get a lot of ''not in my backyard,'' too, as you know, dealing with this issue.
Ms. POPPE. Absolutely. I think there is a lot of fear about folks who are either poor or mentally ill, but we have been able to overcome that in Columbus by working with neighbors to create covenants around good neighbor agreements. So it is still possible. It does require local political will to overcome those neighbors' objections and it requires good quality operations to make sure we fulfill our promises.
Chairman NEY. Of course, I am familiar from being in the legislature about 14 years there and the work you have done, a lot of you, and Bill Faith and a lot of good work that has been done.
I had a question for Mr. Netburn. I think in your testimony you mentioned that the early administration of the collaborative grant was complicated. Can you expand on that a little bit?
Mr. NETBURN. Yes, the original request, the notice of funding availability that was issued was really several different applications that were just in one envelop, so to speak. There was a really short time frame, and it was incredibly challenging for the providers who put together the skid row collaborative, to respond to that request. Additionally, in the early part of the grant, particularly the administration of it, there were different start dates to the different funding streams; different reporting rules.
The original concept was really great, of putting funding into one single application with the idea that it would be administered singly, but the initial administration was clearly not like that. I know they have been working hard in Los Angeles to make it a lot smoother. I do hear that it is smoother, but it was extremely challenging in the beginning.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Needless to say, dealing with this population was very challenging. Where you really want to focus your efforts is on helping the chronic homeless people get into housing and stay there, not with the oversight of the program. Not to say there should not be clear oversight and accountability, but I have been doing government work for about 20 years and it was probably about the most complicated application I have ever seen.
Fortunately, as I said, that has somewhat been worked out. I think the new legislation does address that. Just given that early experience, we wanted to make sure that those federal agencies involved in this matter really take it to heart and collaborate and try to make it as easy as possible, ensuring the proper oversight.
Chairman NEY. Thank you.
I have run out of time, but I just had a generic quick question, Mr. Chairman. It is also good to be here today with our Ranking Member, Ms. Waters. It deals with rural versus urban homelessness. Any recent stats on it? Homelessness is homelessness, but obviously in the urban centers it just statistically has to be a lot more.
Ms. POPPE. I think the rate is higher in urban areas than rural areas generally in homelessness per capita.
Ms. BUCKLEY. I know that in rural Arizona, just in two counties, we have over 2,000 homeless veterans, and that is just of the veteran population. I think in the rural areas, the problem that you have is they are not so visible. You have them in the desert areas, in the forests. There are not as many resources such as emergency shelters, transitional programs where you can get headcounts.
So it is a big issue in rural areas as well. There are not as many opportunities for nonprofits and faith-based organizations to set up programs to help the homeless because there is not as much funding and everything like that.
Chairman NEY. We have homelessness, but also like down in Blair, Ohio at Salvation Army, you will see a lot of people passing through from other places also, and they will come into the small areas to try and get some help.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My time has expired.
Mr. RENZI. Mr. Whitehead?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I was just going to echo that, that there are definitely fewer resources to address the problem of homelessness in rural communities. We have also found in some rural communities like Iowa, the population is primarily families.
Chairman NEY. Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. NETBURN. Could I just add?
Mr. RENZI. Yes, sir.
Mr. NETBURN. I come from the second-largest city in America. I know from speaking to many of the providers in rural areas, that they feel that particularly in the colder rural areas that their clients may not necessarily meet the definition of ''chronic homelessness'' because in those areas people will take people in, offer them housing particularly during the cold months. So they feel disadvantaged.
Mr. RENZI. Mr. Chairman, thank you for the questions.
We move to our Ranking Member, Ms. Waters.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much. I would like to just take this opportunity to thank Chairman Ney. As was mentioned earlier, he came to Los Angeles when we first opened the discussion on Section 8. We had tremendous turnout and a lot of support from the service providers and people in this community who are working at this every day, landlords, everybody who sent the word back here to Congress, please do not cut Section 8. So we all are warned that it would lead to, and quickly, to homelessness. I would like to thank you, Chairman Ney, and I would like to thank all of those who participated.
Let me talk about Los Angeles and ask some questions about Los Angeles for a minute. I do not know if other members of Congress are having this problem, but we have a growing confrontation between downtown and South Los Angeles. Something happened in this service authority that gave Sheriff Baca some authority to do something. I am not sure as of this moment what it is. Many of our organizations got word, and they defined it as Sheriff Baca had the mandate from the authority to get rid of the homelessness downtown because of the proposed new developments downtown, and ship them to South Los Angeles with some plan to have temporary shelters under freeways and some other places. As you know, the community exploded.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I got Sheriff Baca out to a meeting where 900 people showed up at Crenshaw Christian Center, and of course they sent the word back in no uncertain terms that there should not be a shifting of homeless population. There is a significant amount of homelessness in South Los Angeles already, and everybody agrees that every community must do its share of bearing the responsibility for the homelessness.
Can you tell me if the Authority has a plan to shift the homeless from downtown? I wish other members of Congress would tell me if they have these kinds of plans going on the area, if something is going on and we are now in confrontation about the homeless. Do you know anything about this, Mr. Netburn?
Mr. NETBURN. I can state emphatically we do not plan on shifting resources or housing to South-Central or other areas. What we have seen over time is a concentration of services within the skid row area. It was a conscious policy of the City of Los Angeles many years about, about 20 years ago, to create, in effect, a skid row. It has developed in a chicken and egg scenario. What I mean by that is, homeless people not only throughout the City of Los Angeles, but really throughout the county and sometimes from other areas of the country know of the concentration of services in skid row and come there. Those providers have said, we need the funds because we have the most number of people. The reason they have the most number of people is because they got the funds years ago and they have the services. So it has become a self-perpetuating situation.
So what the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has said is that we are not going to de-fund projects in that area, but as much as possible we want to have new projects in other areas of the city and the county. Our estimates are that in skid row there are about four homeless people for every available bed. In South-Central, our estimates are that there are 44 people for every available bed. So what we want to try to do is eliminate that disparity so that people can be served in their own areas.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the misnomers about homeless people is that people think they have come from some other area. Our experience is that they are neighbors; that they live in the area where they have gone to high school and the like, and that they are going to be most successful if they are receiving services and housing in their neighborhood with the support services.
So we are not looking to shift the funding. What we are looking to do is to more equitably distribute the funding and the housing and the services so that people in the other areas have access in the areas where they live.
Ms. WATERS. If I may, Mr. Chairman, on the Homeless Authority, how many people serve on the Authority Oversight Board?
Mr. NETBURN. There are a total of 10 members. The Mayor appoints five, with the approval of the City Council, and each of the five County Supervisors has one appointee.
Ms. WATERS. Well, I am finding that the problems of the homelessness is landing on the doorsteps of the members of Congress. On Section 8, they are beating our doors down. I have had three meetings already, working with the Housing Authority and others. Just as the question of whatever Sheriff Baca was doing came to light, then I was bombarded with the neighborhood councils and all who came to me.
In the creation of the Authority, was any thought given to asking the members of Congress whether or not they wanted to participate in any way? Do you know?
Mr. NETBURN. The creation pre-dates me. It was created in 1993. It really arose out of a lawsuit between the City and the County of Los Angeles. They agreed to settle that lawsuit by creating the Authority. State law allows two jurisdictions such as the city and the county to enter into a formal agreement. So those were the parties to the agreement. I have not heard of any specific discussion about that, but I certainly can check and get back to your office on that.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I do want to state for the record, because you have mentioned Sheriff Baca, who has been a real champion of homeless issues and been very forceful. His actions were not at the direction of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority nor did we endorse those. We do seek and applaud any leadership we receive on homeless issues and funding and the siting of facilities, but his action in that specific area was independent from LAHSA.
Ms. WATERS. I thank him, and he is a friend. I know that he is well-meaning. We just need to understand the relationship to the Authority and what is taking place. What I am going to do is ask this committee to come to Los Angeles one more time. I do not know if it will, but maybe some of the members will. We want you to walk us through the homeless network. I, surprisingly, have not been invited to do that. I think I am going to take more responsibility in figuring out what is happening in Los Angeles, and I want my colleagues to go along with me.
Chairman NEY. Would the gentlelady yield? I think it would be a good idea to go to Los Angeles. I have been there, of course, on other issues, but I think to view first-hand homeless problems in that and any other cities I think would be excellent.
Mr. NETBURN. Let me take this opportunity to publicly invite all of you. We would be truly honored to show you the situation in Los Angeles, which Philip Mangano can talk about. We are not proud of this fact, but certainly the skid row area and other parts of the city and county have a street population unlike any other city in the entire country.
Ms. WATERS. When we come, we do not want anybody to clean it up. I want my colleagues to see exactly what it is.
Mr. NETBURN. We do not give a cleaned-up tour.
Ms. WATERS. Okay. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RENZI. I share the commitment, and I look forward to also coming and visiting and seeing Los Angeles.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The gentlelady from Pennsylvania, Ms. Hart.
Ms. HART. I have a quick question. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It really runs along the same lines, but it is much more general in nature. I have had and continue to have regular meetings with housing advocates in the six counties I represent, but especially in Allegheny County, which is a major center of my district. Though they are very happy with some of the programs that we provide, they always tell me that they will have someone who they would term as chronically homeless who seems to fit everything, but then there is one criterion that always seems to prevent them from actually finding a place, not always but often prevents them from finding a place.
So my question is actually for the executive directors of the housing authorities or for the homeless authorities. I think there are three of you on the panel, Columbus, LA, and Alameda, the three of you. Are there things that we need to do aside from a comprehensive outline of the program, that are more specific? Do you find, for example, that there are certain conditions that seem to be all the time eliminating factors for a person that you are trying to help? Or is this something that maybe I need to get more details from my folks? They have given me some, and we have gone back to HUD and said, why do you do this; why do you do that. Are there things that you find that are chronic issues that we need to address?
Ms. POPPE. Speaking from the Columbus perspective, as well as we have heard from those around the State of Ohio, one of the current challenges we are seeing is that an increasing number of folks who find themselves homeless, whether it is families with children or single adults or those who have records of incarceration, and those records of incarceration prevent them from being eligible for any of the federal housing programs through public housing or Section 8. I would say that is the number one issue, is how to deal with housing for ex-offenders.
We work very closely with our State of Ohio. They are very interested in doing improved discharge planning, but simply there are not resources available to house that population, so they end up un-housed. Within the population of ex-offenders, the most difficult to house are those folks who have been labeled as sexual predator and are subject to community notification. Many of those individuals are effectively completely un-housable and present the greatest challenge.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The other issue that we consistently face is that folks who have been homeless have very bad credit records. Increasingly, private landlords as well as the Public Housing Authority will not accept folks who have bad credit records. So there is not a process by which they can resolve those prior debts. They may be education debts; they may be health debts. Those credit issues become a rental factor. They are not embedded in any of the federal laws, but because the housing authorities, as well as the private landlords, are looking for the best tenants, and there are more people who need housing than there is housing available, that is the additional factor that can often make families in particular un-housable.
Mr. PUCCI. In Alameda, we have a similar example. We were trying to do a project-based assistance program using Section 8 vouchers with a homeless collaborative. They wanted to target the housing to folks who needed supportive services in the area of drug and alcohol counseling. Our local HUD rep said, well, you cannot do that because they would not be eligible for Section 8 if they had chronic drug and alcohol problems. So there is a conflict there.
Mr. NETBURN. I would, in the interest of time, just agree with the things that were said. These are our clients. They are people who are mentally ill, who have been convicted of quality of life crimes, et cetera; people who have been evicted from other units because they could not pay their rent. That is why these people are homeless. So to have many of those things be barriers to them going to the type of housing we are talking about is very problematic.
Ms. HART. I think Ms. Poppe mentioned families as well. Is it because the head of the household faces the challenge that they have been incarcerated, or have that kind of a challenge?
Ms. POPPE. Yes. It is usually the head of household. Occasionally, it is a youth offender who is a member of the family, where the youth has committed a crime, that they will be ineligible. Usually those would be a sex-related offense. They are pretty rare circumstances, but they are the most difficult to house. In part, it is because there is not a good availability of treatment services to go with the housing to help the individual be really stable out in the neighborhood and out in the community, because we certainly do not want them to re-offend.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. HART. So part of the solution is actually to have a more complete package of services?
Ms. POPPE. Absolutely.
Ms. HART. Okay. Thank you.
I yield back.
Mr. RENZI. I thank the gentlelady.
My neighbor across the hall in the Cannon Building, Mr. Scott, who showed up on time, but we had all this seniority we had to get through. Mr. Scott?
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you. I appreciate those brownie points.
My question is to the gentleman from Philadelphia, Mr. Hess, about the phenomenal success in Philadelphia. I have spent some time in Philadelphia attending college at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. While there, this homelessness problem was really being magnified in Philadelphia, while at the same time there was a lot of downward pressure because of urban decay and Philadelphia's massive loss of housing stock, especially up in North Philadelphia, which makes your success story all the more remarkable.
Especially the fact that you went from, I think you said, about 400,000 and some homeless to around 150,000 homeless, and then you had a 50 percent drop. Given all of that and the downward pressure also from the loss of all that housing stock, the nation would be very interested in knowing what were the centerpieces of your strategy that provided this remarkable success story of homelessness in Philadelphia?
Mr. HESS. I thank the gentleman for his kind words. We point out that Mayor Franklin is from Philadelphia as well.
Mr. SCOTT. Absolutely.
Mr. HESS. We are proud of the work that is going on in Atlanta. Really, it started in our city with a public discussion over the issue of the number of people sleeping on the streets. It really was a very vocal discussion on both sides of that issue that led to Mayor John Street taking very strong leadership to say we were not going to criminalize the act of being homeless on the streets of our city, but yet we were going to try a social service engagement strategy and put $5 million new dollars immediately on the table to bring the appropriate systems and resources to bear.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we added street outreach teams and created a police detail strictly dedicated to homeless service issues to work with those social service teams. But the biggest thing we did was add residential treatment placement slots, housing with treatment and support. That has been really remarkably effective. At first, it was drug and alcohol treatment programs with residential housing and behavioral health housing. We added about 2,000 units of behavioral health beds with services attached in the city, and hundreds of drug and alcohol recovery house beds.
So that was the first piece. Once we were able to reduce the street population by about 50 percent, we then recognized that those strategies in and of themselves would not get us to our goal of ending the need for anyone to sleep on our streets. That is when we turned to the Housing First approach. Supportive housing is just so incredibly important. I was really thinking about Chairman Ney's question about the de-institutionalization. The fact is that I think now we have learned over time how to provide services in housing for almost anybody.
Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Hess, let me ask you because I do not want to use all my time here, but let me ask about rental assistance. Tell me how rental assistance played in your program and how impactful and important it is?
Mr. HESS. It is absolutely critical to be able to house people permanently with supportive services. We were able to kind of cobble together some of the services locally, but we had to have the rental subsidies to make that portion of our success happen. It remains critically important as we look to the future.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
Ms. Poppe, may I ask you this question, in the legislation there is a funding mechanism that says you get 3-year grants, and then after that 3 years you get a renewal, but that 3-year renewal is one-half of what the original was. Do you believe that that authorization is sufficient to provide the necessary funds to address this chronic homelessness?
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. POPPE. It has been our experience that overall just over half of the support for our supportive housing units that have been developed in Columbus do come from the federal government. That does not mean that at the beginning of the project their funding got cut by half as we move through the process. So I do believe that that formula should be addressed and adjusted. It is one thing to say it is 50 percent of the overall project cost, but it is another thing if the real intention is to cut the funding by 50 percent.
Under the current collaborative initiative to end homelessness, we are in a declining scale as it relates to the HHS component, under SAMHSA, but the rent subsidies under HUD under the SHP program have remained constant throughout the term of the grant. We believe that the housing subsidy portion of it definitely needs to stay fully in place. The service piece perhaps could decline as you could bring in locals, because there is a substantial part of funding for services that can come from the local and the state government. But absolutely, the housing component needs to stay there because that is the only way we can keep folks affordably housed.
Mr. SCOTT. One final question, Mr. Chairman. There has been some debate and discussion among professionals as well as housing and homeless advocates in terms of the definition of ''chronic homelessness.'' Do you feel that there is a need for us to try to come up with some definition, and this could be for any member on the panel, for chronic homelessness, and if we needed to write that into the statute? If so, what do you think, just very quickly, what it would say? Mr. Hess?
Mr. HESS. I would say that we follow the research, and we look at the research of Dr. Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania and we see that 10 percent of the population meet the chronic definition that he has developed, and that they are using 50 percent of our resources, we would say with or without a definition that is a group we ought to target and we ought to focus on because we believe that if we are able to move that 10 percent that is utilizing 50 percent of our resources, into permanent housing and out of our shelter systems, that ultimately we will have more resources to be able to address the need of everyone else that experiences homelessness in our community, whether that be individuals or families.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. Mr. Scott, we certainly believe that the definition should be expanded because we certainly believe that it is important to address the issues of this population, but we do not believe that you should be pitting populations against each other. Homeless families and children are just as vulnerable as chronically homeless individuals as defined in the legislation.
In addition to that, there is also additional research by the RAND Corporation in Houston that says people that are homeless have some of the same issues as people that are chronically homeless by definition. We do not completely understand the freed-up resources because if people are chronically homeless and need the resources for permanent housing, permanent housing is housing that remains forever. So we do not understand how resources are freed-up if you provide permanent housing for people over a period of time.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RENZI. I thank the gentleman. I want the gentleman to know I am willing to work with him, too, maybe during the markup period at looking at what an amendment might be on the definition, particularly given all the testimony we have gotten here today.
The gentleman from Alabama, Mr. Davis.
Mr. DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin my comments by saying that while I think I agree with a lot of Ms. Waters's comments that there are some well-founded objections to this legislation, I do think that this needs to be said on the outset. Mr. Renzi has certainly shown a remarkable commitment on this issue in the last year-and-a-half, and not just with the work that he is doing today.
As we speak, the agriculture appropriations bill is being marked up and Mr. Renzi and I are cosponsors of a bill that will allow guarantee fees to be included in financing for FHA loans, USDA loans. That is, I think, the fourth or fifth time this year that Mr. Renzi has been successful in getting a bill of his enacted into law. I certainly want to thank him and it is something that people in this room should know.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me pick up, if I can, on Mr. Scott's questions. Obviously, you have heard from a number of people on this panel, from a number of yourselves, about the weakness of the definition of ''chronically homeless.'' The overwhelming majority of you were supporters of this bill. Those of you who are supporters, how many of you are wedded to that definition? How many of you think that it is critical to the efficacy of this bill that the definition remain as it is now? Any of you? As we used to say in the courtroom, let the record reflect that no one answered that question affirmatively, and several nodded their heads negatively. So let's work from that assumption.
One of the things that is striking to me is that under both the McKinney-Vento formula and under this formula there is a tendency to fixate on people who are homeless because of long-term issues in their lives such as disability or alcoholism or mental illness. It strikes me that there is another emerging population of homeless people who fall frankly outside the ambit of all these bills, and I want to talk about that for a minute.
Given the dislocations we have had in this economy in the last several years, given the fact that in my opinion and the opinion of a lot of us on this committee, the economic inequality in this country is widening and we are pushing people onto the margins who have never been on the margins before. There is a new class of people who are homeless not because they are mentally ill, not because of any lifestyle issues, but simply because they cannot afford to make payments which are unbelievable in a lot of our major urban areas. The price of rent in DC, San Francisco, Boston, you have a lot of people who do not come anywhere near the profile of homeless who fit that category because they cannot afford $2,500 a month in rent.
Can any couple of you talk for a moment about what we could do to address that problem of people who have fallen into short-term economic distress?
Ms. ROMAN. If I could speak to that, I have two observations. The first is, we want to avoid a situation in which having a housing crisis enter the homeless system and cannot get out. That is what is happening now. Anybody who has a housing crisis enters the homeless system and their stays are becoming longer and longer because there is no exit strategy. So we need to get people back into housing faster. The way we do that is by increasing the supply of affordable housing.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So this is not a homelessness issue. This is a housing affordability issue. We need a strong rent subsidy program like Section 8 and we need a production program like the National Housing Trust Fund or other production programs. I think we need to be careful not to try to solve the entire housing affordability issue of the country through the homeless programs. We ought to strengthen the affordable housing infrastructure and avoid people becoming homeless in the first place.
Mr. DAVIS. Do any one of you think that the Administration's proposed changes in Section 8 over the last several years are a good public policy goal for this country? Does anybody on the panel think that? As we used to say in the courtroom, let the record reflect that nobody bit on that one either.
Let me close on this observation with you, Mr. Whitehead. The nature of these hearings is that there are a lot more of you all witnesses than there are of us members who were here, and there are a lot of lobbyists out there and a lot of interns and a lot of staffers, and they miss a lot of what is said. So I want to make sure people heard something that you said today.
If I understood you correctly, 10 years ago you experienced a situation of temporary homelessness. That is something I want people in this room to hear for two reasons. First of all, no one looking at you today would recognize that. That is important because it shows us that the profile of this problem does not always look like the people we suspect.
Second of all, if I can just take 30 seconds to make this point, you acknowledge that the rehabilitation in your life happened in part because of publicly assisted and guarantee programs. It is important for us to know that because every now and then on this committee and all the others, we tend to reduce these problems to an analysis of numbers and we get caught up on the merits of not doing anything versus not doing enough, and we have all these abstract arguments.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Every now and then it is important for somebody to come in here and tell us that there is a power in what we do, and that power is the ability to every now and then shape the lives of individual people. So I wanted to make sure everybody in this room who might have missed your success story in the midst of all the interruptions, to make sure that they heard it because it speaks to ultimately what this institution can do.
I will yield back.
Mr. RENZI. Mr. Davis, thank you for your articulation, as always substantive.
We are going to go ahead and dismiss this panel. Let me say to you, thank you very much. I am open to an amendment on the definition of homelessness, given the fact that you all brought great arguments to the dais today I think most of us here in this room agree with, and I was part of the ones that did sign on to the Section 8 letter that was worried about that issue. I would also say that this is new money. It is not money taken from one program for another. The motive was simply to target a specific area where we could make some gain, again not to, and I know there are tons of issues out there that we can deal with, and hopefully in that targeting make some people's lives better.
Thank you for coming all the way from all your homes and towns, and for being part of this. Let the record reflect that the chair notes that some members may have additional questions for this panel which they may wish to submit in writing. Without objection, the hearing record will remain open for 30 days for the members to submit written questions to these witnesses and place their responses in the record.
We dismiss the first panel and welcome the second panel, and also welcome our chair, Mr. Ney.
Chairman NEY. [Presiding.] I want to thank the second panel for your patience. We have the Honorable John W. Hickenlooper, Mayor, City and County of Denver, Colorado; Mr. Philip Mangano, executive director, Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am going to defer to Chairman Baker for the introduction of the third panelist.
Mr. BAKER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to express my appreciation to you for courtesies extended in providing an opportunity for the Mayor of my principal municipality in the Sixth District of Louisiana to be able to be with us this morning, Mayor Bobby Simpson. The Mayor has been an outspoken advocate for housing reform within our community.
We have been a fortunate recipient of a significant Hope VI grant providing for the first time significant HUD resources to revitalize housing in a very depressed area of the city. The Mayor has been a leader in this arena and I think one of the first cities to demonstrate leadership with regard to the Samaritan Act in formulating their own visionary plan. I wish to extend a warm welcome to the Mayor and my deep appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, for the courtesies extended.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman NEY. I want to thank the Chairman for his introduction.
We are going to start with the Honorable Bobby Simpson. Is it true it is Mayor-President in Louisiana?
Mr. SIMPSON. Yes, sir. We are in a consolidated form of government. I am actually Mayor of the city of Baton Rouge and President of our Parish or County.
Chairman NEY. That is great. We will begin with you, Mayor.
STATEMENT OF HON. BOBBY SIMPSON, MAYOR-PRESIDENT, BATON ROUGE, LA
Mr. SIMPSON. Thank you.
First of all, let me thank my Congressman, Richard Baker, for the courtesies extended to us. He has been a partner with us in changing some of the affordable housing stock in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We have made significant improvements to single-family homeownership in our community.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I also want to thank Mr. Mangano for making several trips to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and being part of us and helping us to establish our 10-year plan, one of the first, probably the first in the State of Louisiana and one of the first in the south.
As Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge parish, I represent a diverse community of both rural and inner-city. Our community has been fighting the problem of chronic homelessness. The problem of chronic homelessness is not just a big city problem. It is a problem that affects the communities across the country, both large and small, urban and rural.
We have formed the Mayor's Task Force to End Chronic Homelessness. This task force was established to link and expand the local network of homeless service providers to include businesses, schools, law enforcement and the faith community. Our goal was to create a one-stop shop for homelessness support. No one agency will be able to solve chronic homelessness. This has to be a collaborative community effort.
As a community, we took what we have learned from our Mayor's Task Force to End Chronic Homelessness and applied it to our 10-year strategic plan. Our 10-year plan is an example of the way that private and public agencies can come together to strategically coordinate and collaborate in the development and implementation of a community-wide plan to end chronic homelessness.
Our Office of Economic and Community Development, along with entities such as the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless, Volunteers of America, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Myriam's House, Catholic Community Services and other nonprofit providers represent a diverse and strong community response, which includes both faith-based and traditional nonprofit provider organizations.
As president of the Louisiana Conference of Mayors, the 10 big cities in the State of Louisiana, I am very familiar with the Samaritan Initiative. In June 2003, the U.S. Conference of Mayors met and passed a resolution endorsing the Administration's effort to end chronic homelessness and supporting the 10-year planning process for cities. On January 15, 2004, East Baton Rouge parish unveiled its 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness. The City-Parish of Baton Rouge supports the concept of single application process
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Mangano from the Interagency Council was with us for that announcement.
The City-Parish of Baton Rouge supports the concept of the single application process provided by the Samaritan Initiative. It fits ideally into our City-Parish efforts of a one-stop shop for homelessness services. We support the housing strategies that move the chronic homeless from the streets and shelters into housing. We have created the Neighborhood Housing Network to partner with the city to utilize adjudicated properties for developing housing for the homeless. We continue to identify available land to construct Housing First homeless development.
We have formed a partnership with the Baton Rouge Police Department to create the Homeless Triage Center. This center gives police somewhere else to bring the homeless instead of incarceration. The Homeless Triage Center puts the client in touch with proper services to help end chronic homelessness. The goal is to have all our assets working together. East Baton Rouge Parish has many services, but for them to have the most effect there needs to be collaboration and strategic partnerships. The Samaritan Initiative encourages this collaboration and partnership.
Chronic homelessness is a challenge we must fight together. It is not just a big city problem. Chronic homelessness affects us all. This is a problem that taxes our police department, health services, and our community. No one agency will be able to solve it. To accomplish our goal of ending chronic homelessness, local, State and federal entities must work together to maximize our assets. I truly believe that in the world's most prosperous country, it is unacceptable to have men, women and children living on the streets. A home is fundamental to an individual's happiness, health and success. I am committed to our community's effort to end homelessness in Baton Rouge.
We wish to thank the committee for allowing us to testify. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Hon. Bobby Simpson can be found on page 148 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Thank you, Mayor.
Usually we go on and move on to the other witnesses, but as I understand it you have to be out at 12:30. So if there are any questions for the Mayor now, we will then move on.
Mr. BAKER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mayor, one of the areas where I know we have particular difficulty in Baton Rouge is with homeless veterans. If there is any segment of our population that may deserve special treatment, it is those who have served the country and now find themselves out on the street.
Is there any particular portion of the Samaritan program that speaks to that particular segment of the population? Is it generally blind and it is up to the local community to identify the needs? Finally, what else can be done, in addition to the basic boilerplate? I understand the funds for the Samaritan program are fairly limited, about $70 million nationally. Obviously, one answer from a Mayor is always more money.
Mr. SIMPSON. That is right.
Mr. BAKER. But is there any other additional resource, help? What else could we do to work more effectively with you in meeting these needs?
Mr. SIMPSON. More money.
No, I think Mr. Mangano will address that a little bit in his testimony. The VA is part of the collaboration under the Samaritan Initiative. A lot of the things that we talk about, including the Section 8 vouchers, are about rental properties. To me, chronic homelessness, to end it you have to establish homeownership. I think that is one of the mandates and one of the basic tenets of what we are all working on is true homeownership for all.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have had this discussion over the last couple of hours about whether you need to change Section 8 or whatever, but we have a housing stock problem in this country. In my own parish, we are building $200,000-plus houses, but we are not building the $100,000 starter homes. This is an issue that faces the young folks that are growing up, but it also affects anyone that has a major health problem, which many of our veterans do.
So I think the collaboration that is there with the Samaritan Initiative is something that will help us all in solving that problem, particularly as it relates to veterans.
Mr. BAKER. Thank you, Mayor.
I yield back.
Chairman NEY. Mr. Davis?
Mr. DAVIS. Thank you. I will be brief, Mr. Chairman.
Mayor, let me take advantage of your expertise at the local level to get a little bit of insight from you on Section 8. I understand the thrust of your last answer is that you believe there is a major housing stock problem. I do not think it is an either/or and I do not necessarily disagree with that observation, but I do not think it is an either/or.
Mr. SIMPSON. Right.
Mr. DAVIS. Let me ask you this, how long have you been Mayor again?
Mr. SIMPSON. Off and on for 12 years.
Mr. DAVIS. All right. Over that 12 years, obviously you have had a chance to work with the Section 8 program. Do you believe that the Section 8 program is somehow overfunded, that we are putting too many resources into it?
Mr. SIMPSON. I do not believe any federal program that filters down to the local level is ever overfunded. We need more money.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. Do you have any agreement or any sympathy with the Administration's decision back in April that will lead to the elimination or the reduction of Section 8 vouchers?
Mr. SIMPSON. No, not exactly. I mean, again we were called here on the Samaritan Initiative.
Mr. DAVIS. I understand that.
Mr. SIMPSON. We do not see what is going on behind the scenes with some of your dictates and discussions.
Mr. DAVIS. But you see what is going on above the scenes, and from what you are saying you think Section 8 is something that is a good valid commitment from the government.
Let me ask you this question, do you have any explanation or do you have any clue why the Administration, because frankly a lot of mayors agree with you. I have not heard from any mayors who have a different perspective on Section 8 than you do. Do you have any explanation of why the Administration seems to be in a different place on Section 8 from where the overwhelming majority of Republican and Democratic mayors are?
Mr. SIMPSON. No, I do not.
Mr. DAVIS. Have you shared that with Mr. Baker and any of your friends who may have the ear of the Administration?
Mr. SIMPSON. No. All I can tell you is I am a member of the National League of Cities and we support the Samaritan Initiative, but we also support Section 8. We are still having the housing issues that just about any city of any size is having.
Mr. DAVIS. What about Hope VI? Is Hope VI also a good, valid program?
Mr. SIMPSON. Hope VI, we are a recipient of Hope VI, we are very, very proud of it.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. How many Hope VI programs are going in your community right now?
Mr. SIMPSON. Just the one.
Mr. DAVIS. When was that one launched?
Mr. SIMPSON. Last year.
Mr. DAVIS. Last year? And do you believe that something is going to be in effect a program for housing in your area?
Mr. SIMPSON. Yes.
Mr. DAVIS. And you do not support the elimination of Hope VI, do you?
Mr. SIMPSON. No.
Mr. DAVIS. I do not know very many mayors who do. Have you communicated to Mr. Baker or to the Administration your confidence in the Hope VI program?
Mr. BAKER. Would the gentleman yield on that point?
Mr. DAVIS. I will.
Mr. BAKER. It was because of his effective congressional representation and continued unswerving commitment to excellence.
Mr. SIMPSON. Exactly what I was going to say, Congressman.
Mr. BAKER. Fighting the odds against many large urban centers which take most of the Hope VI money that our small community was able to get a few crumbs and help our Mayor take an excellent step toward progress in helping those underserved in our community.
I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. DAVIS. Reclaiming my time, I welcome that commitment and I hope that your testimony and Mr. Baker's testimony, as it will, is one that is heard by the Administration.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I yield back.
Mr. SIMPSON. Thank you, sir.
Chairman NEY. Are there other questions? Mr. Scott?
Mr. SCOTT. One quick one, Mr. Mayor. In your opening comments, you mentioned your preference for homeownership over rental units. The Millennial Housing Commission's report, have you read that?
Mr. SIMPSON. No, sir.
Mr. SCOTT. It states that the lack of affordable low-income rental units is by far the more serious problem. On the panel before I asked the gentleman from Philadelphia and others about rental assistance. It appears to me that the general national opinion runs counter to yours. I was wonder why is that?
Mr. SIMPSON. In my personal opinion, again I am giving you my personal feelings, I believe that homeownership is tantamount to being American today. I think we need to move all of our goals towards homeownership. I agree with Mr. Davis's comments, we cannot do one without the other. You cannot take the population that are having to live in the rentals and just do away with the program. But to me, if we can transition from rental into ownership, and that requires a tremendous collaborative effort with the building of new homes and the affordability of those homes. To me, that is the issue that we are facing as a nation today is the affordability of single-family homeownership.
Mr. SCOTT. Would you say that might be unique according to the region of the country?
Mr. SIMPSON. I think so. Some of the things in Louisiana, and particularly Baton Rouge, you can almost buy as cheap as you can rent. So that may have something to do with some of the things you are talking about.
Mr. SCOTT. Right, especially on some of the real hardcore urban centers where housing stock is not as plentiful, say, in Denver or Atlanta.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SIMPSON. And with the deterioration of inner-cities and the revitalization efforts that are going on, if we can put some programs together that can make low-income housing affordable to where the folks that are already living there can move from the rental vouchers, and take those vouchers into homeownership which, to me, that is a good program also.
Mr. SCOTT. Are you comfortable with the definition of ''chronic homelessness''? Or do we need to write one, and if so what would it say?
Mr. SIMPSON. I think he has already said that he would be willing to take a look at that. You know, we create a specific program, this Samaritan Initiative, to target a particular population. It seems that it is getting caught up in all the other programs that are available. I do not think you throw the baby out with the bath wash.
This is a program from a local government aspect that is very needed, because when you have 10 percent of the folks that are involved using 50 percent of our resources, and a lot of times for some of the cities with no mechanism in place to even move them off of the street anywhere else. So a lot of times the frustration from local governments is you just do not tend to deal with it. So the program continues to grow and you get a larger homelessness section. So if it is a definition aspect, I think you gentlemen need to work that out yourselves.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, sir.
I yield back.
Chairman NEY. Any further questions? Mayor, I want to thank you. I know you have to leave.
Mr. SIMPSON. Thank you.
Chairman NEY. Thank you. I appreciate your trip to the capital and your testimony.
Next, we will go to the Honorable John Hickenlooper. Mayor?
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF HON. JOHN W. HICKENLOOPER, MAYOR, CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, CO
Mr. HICKENLOOPER. Good morning, Chairman Ney, other members of the subcommittee. Thank you for this opportunity to testify before you in support of the Samaritan Initiative Act.
I was only elected a year ago and had never really been involved in political campaigns. I did, as an entrepreneur, develop housing as a private individual and also did affordable housing. One of the reasons I ran for office was the lack of nonpartisan collaborative and programs with measurable outcomes. I think that is one of the things that this Samaritan Initiative act really stands for.
You have heard about most of the details already so I will not bore you with that. In Denver, we received last year $1.9 million from HUD in the Shelter Plus Care Program over 4 years. We sub-granted that out to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, who have since receiving the first funding in January have already placed 47 out of 60 of the individuals in that program for the chronically homeless.
I also want to thank Mr. Mangano and the Interagency Council on Homelessness for really addressing this issue in a collaborative way and bringing together, especially those of us on a local level and new to government. The matrix of services and how to patch them together is often challenging. I think that this initiative is a second step in making a seamless approach to addressing homelessness.
One of the major issues we face in Denver is our hospital, Denver Health, our large urban hospital which is the major, by far, provider of indigent care and spent over $44 million last year on healthcare for the homeless. That has driven us. That has grown by over 20 percent for the last 2 years and driven us to be on the precipice for the first time in our history of considering specifying certain types of care that we would no longer be able to give to indigent people.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am also, in addition to representing the people of Denver today, representing mayors from across the country. Last month, the U.S. Conference of Mayors enthusiastically endorsed the Samaritan Initiative Act of 2004 as a vital first step in addressing some of the issues around chronic homelessness. At the same time, the U.S. Conference of Mayors also enthusiastically endorsed maintaining full funding for Section 8. I think it recognizes that Samaritan is a complement, and not a substitute for that funding, and that you cannot do one without the other.
I am assured and am confident that the Samaritan Initiative would help Denver and many other cities bring an end to chronic homelessness and be a major step to ending homelessness altogether. Again, as someone who ran for measurable outcomes, to see we now have over 125 cities committed to ending homelessness in 10 years. That is something that those of us outside of government have rarely seen. I see it as incredibly encouraging. This initiative, again, is one of the steps to get to that destination. I hope that we can get all of your support for that.
Thank you for your attention today, as well as your support of Denver and other communities as we work together to end homelessness.
[The prepared statement of Hon. John W. Hickenlooper can be found on page 76 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. Thank you for your testimony.
STATEMENT OF PHILIP MANGANO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES INTERAGENCY COUNCIL ON HOMELESSNESS
Mr. MANGANO. Thank you, Chairman Ney. I want to give a special thanks to Mr. Renzi for sponsoring the Samaritan Initiative legislation. I believe it is an important next step in the efforts to end homelessness, and specifically focusing on chronic homelessness in our country.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In this room are a number of the federal partners from HHS, HUD and VA and Labor who have worked to reduce the statutory, regulatory and cultural barriers to make the Samaritan Initiative possible. Without them, this unprecedented collaboration would not have been possible.
From all those who have testified today, some who I have known for many years during my 24 years of advocacy for homeless people, mostly spent in Massachusetts, what I heard was a near-unity in support of the Samaritan Initiative. In the President's fiscal year 2003 budget proposal and then again in his 2004 and 2005 proposals, he has called on this nation to end chronic homelessness in the next 10 years, the homelessness of those most likely to be on the streets of our communities, severely disabled by mental illness, addiction or developmental disabilities, and tragically those most likely to perish on those streets from exposure.
Cabinet secretaries and agency and department heads have responded, and the revitalization of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has convened 20 federal agencies in the Administration's response. Not only is this Administration reorienting its homelessness resources to accomplish the objective, investing deeper resources in the prevention of homelessness and providing technical assistance through policy academies for states to partner with Washington in making mainstream resources more responsive and available to homeless people, the president has also proposed the Samaritan Initiative.
Mr. Renzi, as lead sponsor and others who have signed on, understand that the Samaritan Initiative represents a new approach to our country's effort to reduce and end the national disgrace of homelessness. Disabled homeless veterans who live in encampments in the woods in rural areas or who forage for food from dumpsters in our cities; homeless mentally ill elders wandering the streets of our communities, sleeping in doorways or long-term in overcrowded shelters; those with the disease of addiction on the streets of every city in our country; physically and developmentally disabled men and women who wrestle with homelessness in their treatment and their recovery; these and others are the focus of the Samaritan Initiative.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As the name implies from that old story, this initiative is targeted to those who are on the side of the road, on the street, long term in shelters, long term in homelessness. Others ignoring their plight, indifferent to their situation, insulated from their presence, have walked by. The Samaritan Initiative is saying that we are going to stop. Federal agencies and our governmental partners in statehouses, city halls and county buildings, and our private sector business partners and our community and faith-based partners, we are going to stop and ensure that those who are on the side of the road are moved toward housing and the services they need to stabilize their lives, treat their ailments, and sustain their tenancies.
That is what the Samaritan Initiative is, supporting neighbors. We have all long understood the moral and spiritual and quality of life issues attending to these lives. But the recent research tells us that there is another compelling reason to respond, economics. Across our country, study after study from Seattle to New York, from Columbus to Denver, is telling us that those experiencing chronic homelessness on our streets are some of the most expensive citizens in our communities. A recent study in San Diego demonstrates this new understanding.
The City and County of San Diego commissioned the University of California at San Diego to follow people who are experiencing chronic homelessness on their streets. The presumption was that these people did not cost very much; that they slept on the beaches and in the parks and on the streets of San Diego, and that they begged for what they ate and what they drank.
But when the city and county engaged the university in the study, they uncovered a different story. Their research following just 15 chronic street inebriates for 18 months revealed that the 15 people had 299 entrances into the emergency rooms of local hospitals, similar to what Mayor Hickenlooper described in Denver. In that period, they were usually taken by ambulances and EMTs to those 299 entrances at the cost of nearly $1 million to the city and county of San Diego.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When acute substance abuse and mental health treatment were added for the 15, plus law enforcement interventions and temporary incarcerations, the total cost for the 15 in the 18 months was $3 million, or an average of $200,000 per person. San Diego knew that they could do better. Through results-oriented, cost-effective planning, they are, through their SIP program and a 10-year planning process.
What was most disquieting and the cause of much frustration to those city officials was that after the expenditure of $3 million or $200,000 per person, those 15 were in the same condition and the same situation as before the funds were spent. Those ad hoc siloed crisis interventions were expensive and ultimately ineffectual in remedying the situation or improving the condition.
A long time ago, Einstein warned us that a certain sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Well, the Samaritan Initiative aims to break that cycle on our streets and in the shelters of our country. How? First, moving from ad hoc, siloed crisis responses to coordinated strategic solutions, starting in Washington where three federal departments, HUD, HHS and VA, are partnering in the unprecedented Samaritan Initiative to ensure that housing and service resources are available together in a single application, and through that coordination requiring a similar coordination in communities across the nation. Samaritan leaves room for other of the 20 federal agencies now partnering in the United States Interagency Council to join that effort.
Second, the Samaritan Initiative moves beyond simply funding programs to investing in results. The bill calls for grantees to measure outcomes and quantify results.
Third, the Samaritan Initiative challenges the status quo of homelessness in calling for a new standard of expectation that we will see visible, measurable and quantifiable change on our streets, in our programs, and especially in the lives of homeless people. No longer are we content to shuffle homeless people from one city to another, from one side of town to another, or from one homeless program to another, or from the street to treatment and back to the street. The Samaritan Initiative, along with the prevention resources proposed by the president in his budget, offer a whole prevention and intervention strategy to reduce and end chronic homelessness.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Fourth, the Samaritan Initiative offers to our state and city and county partners, such as Mayor Hickenlooper and Mayor Simpson, new resources to invest in the results-oriented 10-year plans that they are creating across the country from Massachusetts to Chicago, from Minnesota to San Francisco. The Council has partnered now with 46 Governors in the creation of State Interagency Councils, and with 127 mayors and county executives in the creation of 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness.
This partnership that literally extends from the White House to the streets, moves through 20 federal agencies, statehouses, city halls, in partnership with the private, nonprofit and faith-based sectors, along with homeless people themselves, partnerships to create results-oriented, cost-effective plans, driven by data and research and performance and outcome-based.
Samaritan is an investment in these plans and partnerships, and indicates our nonpartisan support to reduce and end homelessness on our streets. In developing these city plans, we have worked closely with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who have agreed with us that on this issue of homelessness, partnership trumps partisanship. There is no D or R or I on homelessness. We are just Americans partnering to end a national disgrace.
Congress has received two letters from over 80 mayors endorsing Samaritan. The U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed the Samaritan Initiative last month at its annual meeting. A number of national homeless, faith-based and issues-related organizations have endorsed it as well, as have individual provider agencies.
But the most important endorsement for Samaritan comes from the field, from the streets. Last year's precursor to the Samaritan Initiative, the Collaborative Chronic Homelessness Initiative, has produced results. Invested in 11 cities across the country, initiatives begun earlier this year such as the one in Denver have already found the target and hit the bull's eye. Hundreds of those who have been on our streets for years, and long term in our shelters, have moved into permanent, supportive housing and are staying there. By the end of the year, hundreds more will join them.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When we make any investment, we should expect a return. The return we are looking for from Samaritan is that people will move off the streets, out of long-term homelessness stays, into housing and stay here. We are doing and getting just that. The investment in the Samaritan Initiative will produce those results and move us further away from punitive responses that just have not worked.
Samaritan offers us an opportunity to meet our spiritual and moral obligations to the poorest, to improve the quality of life in our communities, to save money on homeless and healthcare systems, to foster deeper and more collaborative relationships in Washington, and then between Washington and our nation's communities, and to move beyond the status quo to results and efficiencies.
Finally, when our country says that we will no longer tolerate chronic homelessness; we will no longer tolerate a homeless veteran foraging for food from a dumpster; we will no longer tolerate a mentally ill person finding their sleep on our streets; we will no longer tolerate a homeless elder succumbing to exposure; when our toleration of street homelessness diminishes, our country's soul will feel the healing. That remedy will move us closer to the day when everyone in our communities will be known by a single name, neighbor, and treated as one.
The Samaritan Initiative moves us as a nation beyond indifference and insulation and allows us with all of our partners to stop on the side of the road for our neighbor.
[The prepared statement of Philip Mangano can be found on page 79 in the appendix.]
Chairman NEY. I thank you for your testimony.
The gentleman from Arizona.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this panel and thank you for taking the time.
I want to ask, when we looked last year at the initiatives that were put together, there was a collaborative grant process that had some money behind it. We had a little bit of feedback where it talked about some of the bugs needing to be worked out. Apparently, the process is new. It is a little bit burdensome. As we move forward with the hope that the Samaritan bill will move, and again open to possibly some clarifications, what would it look like as far as the actual process? What kind of lessons learned from last year could we apply that we will not be bogged down in implementing this? Mr. Mangano?
Mr. MANGANO. First of all, we received the same feedback. I think it is to be understood that what we were attempting to do with the collaborative initiative, which is the precursor to the Samaritan Initiative, was unprecedented. Never before had three federal departments, involving four federal agencies worked together on a single notice fo funding availability for homelessness resources to provide to the field what they would need to end chronic homelessness housing and service resources together.
So it was unprecedented, and therefore it was a prototype of what needed to come. I think we all remember the first cell phones. They were cumbersome. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they did not. You needed a little briefcase to carry them around. Well, in a similar way the collabarative initiative of last year was a prototype. It was cumbersome.
What we have done with the Samaritan Initiative is to streamline that process, make the funding more flexible in terms of the pooled resources that would be available. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness fielded all of those responses from the field and that information was brought to the agencies. Many of those agency personnel are here and because of the work done on the Collaborative Initiative to identify the statutory, regulatory and cultural barriers, they were able to put the Samaritan Initiative together.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RENZI. Thank you. The first panel did a great job of unanimously looking at the classification situation and saying, well, we understand that you are trying to target something here. I really was looking at the idea of going after those 15 individuals that you talked about who we are describing as chronic homeless. Is there a better way for me to describe that in defining it?
You hear from the testimony from the gentleman from California who talked about families being now one of the growing sections. I am the father of 12 kids. I do not want to turn my back, especially on children. But again, this was meant to be a specific arrow of that specific group, particularly that came out of that study of 15. Also I heard great testimony from the gentleman who talked about seasonal homelessness, how particularly in the cold regions of America those seasonal individuals maybe go inside and be temporary homeless, but then they would be restricted because they do not meet the 1-year definition that was brought out.
So could you help me refine what is the chronic portion that we are going after?
Mr. MANGANO. Sure. First of all, I think it is important to understand that not only is it one study, but it is multiple studies across our country that have indicated that people experiencing chronic homelessness are the people most likely to die on our streets, to be disabled, and they are the highest cost in healthcare systems. When I go around the country and meet with people in cities and I ask to look at the lists of people who have died on the streets in their cities, nearly every person fits exactly the profile of people experiencing chronic homelessness. When I talked to mayors like Mayor Hickenlooper from Denver and other mayors around the country and they are talking about the people who are in their emergency rooms, they meet the definition of chronic homelessness here.
There is no question that the full policy of this Administration is to address all of homelessness, and much of that was addressed in the testimony that was giving to the committee by HUD wherein they indicate that nearly half of the persons to be assisted by the homeless assistance funds invested by HUD are homeless families. HUD's funding assisted over 200,000 families including 350,000 families in the latest round of McKinney funding.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you said, this is exactly a specifically targeted initiative meant to make an intervention in the lives of people who are on our streets and long term in shelters. There are resources addressing other populations. There is no need to put every population into the Samaritan Initiative. It is meant as that arrow that you described. Certainly, there are many other initiatives addressing the homelessness of other profiles of homeless people.
Mr. RENZI. I appreciate it. Mr. Chairman just for a few more seconds, if we look at the chronic homeless, particularly those most in need on the street, the 15 particularly in the study, and that is the arrow I was trying to shoot here, those individuals who may live in the cold regions of America and necessarily be brought into a temporary shelter, this bill right now in its current language would restrict those individuals from being part of our initiative. While we may be putting and looking at the chronic homeless, those individuals that we talked about, and we are talking about individuals rather than families, and not turning our back on the families, would you be open to the idea of expanding the definition on the seasonal side of it?
Mr. MANGANO. Actually, this definition was derived by a series of conversations and deliberations that were made by HUD, HHS and VA over a 9-month period, really attempting to refine the definition to come to terms with what the research was indicating to us. The definition attempts to be research-and data-driven. It is not quixotic in terms of having someone come up with a definition, but it responds to the research that is being done.
Needless to say, to the degree that there are other concerns, I think other initiatives are being fostered to address concerns of other profiles of homeless people.
Mr. RENZI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman NEY. Thank you.
Mr. FRANK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Mangano, you mentioned the mayors resolution in support of this program. Have you seen their resolution on supporting Section 8 HUD funding?
Mr. MANGANO. I was actually at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting and heard both of these resolutions brought before the Housing Committee.
Mr. FRANK. Okay. It did seem to me relevant to mention both of them, because here is my question. And of course the Section 8, and I would ask unanimous consent to put that into the record, it is very critical of HUD's position with regard to Section 8. I believe Mayor Hickenloooper referred to it in his testimony to the need to have Section 8.
My problem is you say we are going to end homelessness. I am all in favor of that, but I am also skeptical of our over-promising. Do you believe we now have enough affordable housing units to end homelessness in this country, available to the homeless?
Mr. MANGANO. I think we have made it clear through the research that has been conducted independently of the Administration and in documents that the Administration has talked about, that we need to provide for 150,000 tenancies over the next 10 years with the objective of ending chronic homelessness.
Mr. FRANK. That would be additional units. Are these additional units to what we are now doing?
Mr. MANGANO. I think part of the notion was to both access what units exist
Mr. FRANK. You are talking like a bureaucrat. Can we talk like real people here? Are there going to be additional units or existing units?
Mr. MANGANO. They will be additional units in the lives of people who experiencing chronic homelessness. Whether they are brand new units that are produced, that is a question that is now being focused on.
Mr. FRANK. Not produced, because we are not talking about necessarily new production, but made available. Here is the problem. Mayors are telling us that because of the policies of your Administration, they are having trouble solving the problems now.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am all in favor of ending homelessness. I think it would be a terrible error, and I am sure you agree, if we did that at the expense of existing people in this. You do not want to set up a fight between working families who need Section 8, at the working low-income, and the homeless. That is why I am asking you, does this anticipate an increase in the number of units that are made available for affordable housing through federal help?
Mr. MANGANO. Part of the work that we are doing in the Administration right now, just as we have called on states and cities to develop 10-year plans, we are working within the Administration right now in terms of developing precisely a strategy that will get us
Mr. FRANK. Can I ask you the question again? Please. I am glad you have plans, but these are fairly specific questions. Do you think we have enough units right now under the current budgetary situation? Let me put it this way, do you anticipate finding more permanent housing for homeless people than we now have?
Mr. MANGANO. Absolutely, and that is
Mr. FRANK. Okay. Do they come from new units made available under federal programs? Do they displace existing people? That is the problem we have. I want to do this. I want to accommodate this. But I think you are kidding people if you suggest it can be done within the existing allocation of
Mr. MANGANO. Both the collaborative initiative of last year that was described by both Mayor Hickenlooper and myself, and the Samaritan Initiative of this year, are housing initiatives. They are both targeted to the creation of more housing specifically for this population. So the trajectory is precisely to create more units.
Mr. FRANK. Okay. So how are you going to create more units? So you do agree we need to create more affordable units. The problem is you are working for the Administration that is cutting back on them, according to the mayors who you are working with. The mayors say, mayors and their residents who receive Section 8 vouchers are facing a serious crisis as a result of a policy guidance from the U.S. Department of HUD where approximately 250,000 Section 8 vouchers would be eliminated across the country based on the fiscal year 2005 proposed funding request.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have a disconnect here. You say that this assumes more units, but the mayors whom you cite, and I assume you cannot turn the mayors on and off, much as you might like to, if you cite them in support of your initiative, we have to assume they are still valid on the support of the general one. Do you agree with the mayors' characterization of the fiscal year 2005 funding request's impact?
Mr. MANGANO. First of all, I have never found myself able to turn off and on mayors. I find that they respond to results
Mr. FRANK. Good. Could you answer my question now? Do you agree with their characterization that the fiscal year 2005 proposed funding request will eliminate 250,000 Section 8 vouchers and result in unforeseen housing and financial hardships by the most needy of our low-income population of working poor. That is the mayors. Do you agree or disagree with that statement?
Mr. MANGANO. As you know, in Massachusetts there were two significant housing programs
Mr. FRANK. Excuse me. Do you agree or disagree with the mayors' statement? Mr. Mangano, you know better than that. I am not asking you about what we did in Massachusetts. Nobody cares. They have heard too much about Massachusetts lately, frankly. They will be talking it about it all day tomorrow in the Senate.
Let us answer my question now. Do you agree or disagree with the mayors' whereas, that is a straightforward question.
Mr. MANGANO. I am trying to answer that question.
Mr. FRANK. But not by what you and I did in Massachusetts where nobody cares.
Mr. MANGANO. My concern about Massachusetts is that we had a housing program that was specifically targeted to this population, namely the 707 program. Because of a lack of political will there, because people did not want to reform any aspect of that program whatsoever, that program now does not exist.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FRANK. Okay. Now can I ask you a question?
Mr. MANGANO. The constellation of political will for a housing program
Mr. FRANK. Now I have to ask you a question.
Mr. MANGANO.that supports the poor.
Mr. FRANK. Very impressive, Mr. Mangano. I am not asking you about Massachusetts. Will you answer the question, do you agree or disagree with the mayors' comment about the fiscal year 2005 budget request causing this hardship and losing 250,000 units. I do not understand what that has to do with 707. Would you just tell me
Mr. MANGANO. My concern is exactly that, about
Mr. FRANK. Do you agree or disagree with the mayors?
Chairman NEY. Look, let's not do crossfire. The Congressman has asked him a question.
Mr. FRANK. I am just trying to get an answer to that simple question. It does not have to be yes or no. It can be yes but, no maybe.
Chairman NEY. I am not telling you what to answer. I am just saying rather than go back and forth.
Mr. MANGANO. My concern is to sustain political will for the Section 8 program. I support the Section 8 program. I came from many years when I was an advocate for homeless people in Massachusetts, here to Washington to support the Section 8 program. No one wants to see any diminishment
Mr. FRANK. That is not what I asked you.
Mr. MANGANO.of people losing housing. The point of the matter, though, is that sometimes, as we learned with the 707 program, when reform is not constellated, you can lose the entire program. So my concern in supporting the Section 8 program is to ensure that it can
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FRANK. Okay. Let me try one last time. Having said all that, do you agree or disagree with what the mayors said? I am really disappointed at your dancing around this one. I understand the problem. It is a problem because you are part of the Administration, and if you do not want to say so, say so. By the way, I am not aware of specific reforms they have set up here, other than the Secretary saying we have to give it to richer people.
Mr. MANGANO. The flexibility that they are talking about gets to reform.
Mr. FRANK. But what do you think about the mayors' comment in this whereas. Do you agree or disagree in general with what the mayors said?
Mr. MANGANO. Which is about the 250,000 units? I have not conducted that kind of data research so I cannot speak exactly to that. Obviously, I have a concern about the loss of any units that would create more homelessness. I do not know of any appetite in this Administration, in the Council or in the Congress for taking actions that would create more homelessness in this country. It is not a growth industry.
Mr. FRANK. You know better than to think that is an answer.
I am going to close with this. I did not ask you for self-justification. You should not feel you have to do that. I think what you have done on the program is a good thing. But to dance around this critical question, because you know we can do all of the planning, but these people still have to live somewhere.
What we have is, your own allies, the people you quote say yes, but there is a problem. And the people of the homeless coalition. Almost everybody but you, concerned with this program, says it is true; it would be good to restructure it this way, but the people still have to live somewhere. I really am disappointed I cannot get a straight answer out of you.
No further questions.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman NEY. The gentlelady from California, the Ranking Member.
Ms. WATERS. Yes. Mr. Chairman, I think Barney's question makes a lot of sense. I mean on the one hand we have all of this planning. This is an agency that plans. But how do you plan to solve a problem that is being exacerbated by the cutbacks? I guess the philosophy of the Administration that feels that it has been too costly and you have not reaped enough for it, I mean, that is where it seems that you are coming from in your planning.
Having said that, having done studies and you have learned all of this terrific information about chronic homeless people costs cities and counties a lot of money. It is cheaper to keep them than to just let them stay out there and go these emergency rooms and the jails and all where they cost more money.
Now having said all that, who has come up with a model to deal with chronic homelessness? I think we have to recognize some things. These people are mentally ill. They are disabled. They are veterans with agent orange problems, on and on and on. What is the solution?
Mr. MANGANO. You asked for models. I think represented on the first panel are two cities that have done an exceptional job, both Columbus, Ohio and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in specifically targeting results-oriented, cost-efficient plans at this population that have moved people off the streets, out of the clogging of emergency rooms, to housing. There are a number of initiatives around our country.
In your home State of California, the Direct Access to Housing program in San Francisco is a perfect example of a program that in fact moves people off the streets, the most complex, the most disabled, targets those people, moves them into housing, provides the support services necessary for their well-being to ensure that they will stay in that housing.
So across the country, there are a number of initiatives exactly accomplishing that objective.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Do you know of a model? I missed some of the testimony, and I am sorry about that. Do you know of a model that basically recognizes that some people barely function. They will never be able to live independently, and that they need to have the kind of support services that places them in a unit where you have centralized services in a complex where there are two meals a day and there are janitorial services and people are able to do what they can do, but that they will never be able to live independently. Do you know of anything that recognizes that?
Mr. MANGANO. There are a number of programs around the country that in fact respond to that issue. But what we are learning more and more is that the strategy of permanent supportive housing, which again provides support services to people who are disabled by virtue of mental illness or addiction, actually that is the model that is most in use in our country. That is exactly the kind of model that we are attempting to fund with the Samaritan Initiative.
Ms. WATERS. No, but I have not seen this. I want to describe it again. I just do not know about it, I guess.
If someone built 200 units of housing and not necessarily would there be another design for families. Say these were for single adults who are severely disabled, who are mentally ill, who will never be able to live independently.
Mr. MANGANO. Yes.
Ms. WATERS. But they can live with some support services, providing they have a clean place to live, someone is preparing the meals and they do some kind of group therapy and work in crafts or day care, whatever. Who is providing that kind of service?
Mr. MANGANO. For example in my home state, we had a special initiative to house people who are homeless and mentally ill. We moved people from the streets and from long term stays in shelters directly into permanent housing, and again provided the support services that they needed. Some of those people needed deep services for a very long period of time, perhaps for the rest of their life.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Those are the only ones I am talking about now. I am talking about the ones that are always going to be on the street unless extensive services are provided.
Mr. MANGANO. Right.
Ms. WATERS. Did this place that you are describing, did it have a central dining room?
Mr. MANGANO. It was actually scattered-site housing, but there are certainly models that have congregate living where people live together, receive their services in the same building, and have meals together. There are many models of that across the United States.
Ms. WATERS. For permanent living?
Mr. MANGANO. That is correct.
Ms. WATERS. Do we have that in Los Angeles? Where is that located?
Mr. NETBURN. There are several throughout the city and the county.
Ms. WATERS. Give me one.
Mr. NETBURN. A Community of Friends projects, and there are some in South-Central that specifically
Chairman NEY. I am sorry. Can you come to the mike, and that way the record will be clear on it.
Ms. WATERS. Community of Friends?
Chairman NEY. I am sorry.
Mr. NETBURN. Can I state my name?
Chairman NEY. Yes, identify yourself.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NETBURN. Mitchell Netburn from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
One provider that comes to mind would be a Community of Friends which specifically develops permanent housing projects for people with mental illness, and some of those people with mental illness are so severely ill that they need a tremendous amount of support services.
Ms. WATERS. I have a design in mind. I want to know if there is a program where you have multiple units that provide services for the severely handicapped, mentally ill, disabled homeless, that is envisioned as permanent living, where you have centralized services, where food is prepared, where you have psychological, psychiatric health services and activities of some sort, where we are not anticipating that they are going to roll off anywhere. They are going to be there for the rest of their lives. Who has that kind of service?
Mr. NETBURN. As I said, the Community of Friends would be one agency that does, and certainly you offered to come on a tour of some of these.
Ms. WATERS. Tell me where it is. I will be there before you get there. Tell me where it is.
Mr. NETBURN. I doubt that. I am on a plane early tomorrow morning.
Ms. WATERS. Where is it?
Mr. NETBURN. There are several. I cannot think of an address, but I know they have facilities specifically in South-Central so I assume there are several.
Ms. WATERS. How many do they have in that facility?
Mr. NETBURN. Their facilities, they tend to be in the 20-to about 60-person range.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Is this the only one that you know about? Any in downtown Los Angeles?
Mr. NETBURN. Again, that would be some of the SRO housing.
Ms. WATERS. SRO usually does not fit this model that I am talking about. SRO just does not fit this model that I am trying to describe to you.
Mr. NETBURN. Some of them do, some SROs have individual units where they have a bath.
Ms. WATERS. And they are on their own.
Mr. NETBURN. Yes, but not all of them. Some of the older ones do not have kitchens, so there are congregate settings. Even some of the newer ones, have a very small kitchen, but they have group social services, and group meals within that facility for the people who either can not cook for themselves or who are not going to cook properly.
Ms. WATERS. All right, let me ask, if I may Mr. Chairman just a little bit, have any units been developed specifically for this population, say, outside of urban areas? Fifty units, 100 units, 200 units, outside the urban area in open spaces that is supported by city, county or federal dollars? Anybody develop any of that, and do we have the services to go along with it if someone developed that kind of model?
Mr. NETBURN. Not specifically in Los Angeles. There are probably some around the country. As you just pointed out, these are expensive models when you are attaching all of those support services, so one of the reasons that we are supporting the Samaritan Initiative is to fund those services.
Ms. WATERS. This will not fund those services, will it? This is not a lot of money. Is this envisioned to support the kind of services I am attempting to describe here? What I would like you, and anybody can answer this, do we all agree that the chronic homeless who are never going to be able to independently take care of themselves, do we agree that that is true?
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. NETBURN. There are probably some individuals. We always say we, empower people to live independently.
Ms. WATERS. Oh, come on. I know. Look, I have been going through downtown Los Angeles for years now and we have people who are never going to be
I would like to think that we empower people as much as we possibly can, and that you guys are doing a good job of doing that. I would like to think that. But do we recognize that there are some people who are never going to be empowered? They are chronically homeless, ill, unable to manage themselves and their lives, and never ever will be able to. Do we have any models that recognize that?
Mr. NETBURN. Yes, I think there are some. There is always the hope that they will become more independent, but yes, we have some of these models.
Ms. WATERS. No, no.
Mr. NETBURN. Accepting that they will be like that, and giving them the
Ms. WATERS. No, you have people that have been on the street in downtown LA for the past 15 or 20 years. So the first thing I want to tell you guys is, if we, and I put myself in the group with you, if we do not recognize that and develop services for that population, we are always going to have the homeless on the streets.
Mr. NETBURN. We agree with that and do definitely need to fund and create those models.
Ms. WATERS. Does your planning recognize this? And what does your planning say about this?
Mr. MANGANO. Absolutely. The Samaritan Initiative is really targeted to creating housing for people. Some people will go on to live quite independently. They will get jobs.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. No, they will not. I am not talking about that.
Mr. MANGANO. Some will. I can show you there are people.
Ms. WATERS. No. No.
Mr. MANGANO. That is their story.
Ms. WATERS. No. I am talking about the people who will not.
Mr. MANGANO. I understand. I am just saying there are some people who will.
Ms. WATERS. No, I know that.
Mr. MANGANO. Right.
Ms. WATERS. But I am not talking about them now. I am talking about the people who will never ever be able to go on and get a job or manage a house. Do we recognize that? Or have we not come to that conclusion that there are people who will never be able to?
Chairman NEY. Can I answer that?
Ms. WATERS. Yes.
Chairman NEY. There are going to be people that no matter what you do, they will not be self-sustaining. That is my opinion, so I thought I would try to answer it.
Ms. WATERS. I have this theory that we have a population of people who are homeless who will never ever be independent. It is good social work to talk about empowering them so that they will go on and get a job and a house, but they will never ever do it. I come from a social work background and I say it. They will never be able to do it. Do we have a model that recognizes that and will take care of them until they die?
Mr. NETBURN. One that I would point out is HUD funded and is referred to as Safe Havens. There are two types. One is permanent housing. They tend to be small units of about 25 that are for people with very severe mental illness. There are really different rules that they are asked to follow because there is an understanding that they are in the exact category of the people that you were just talking about. They are not going to follow rules of the traditional programs. They are going to need more flexibility. Some of the programs will allow the clients to sign leases. They can stay there the rest of their life, and they are very intense social service models.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In skid row, there is an agency called Lamp Community which has really been a pioneer in developing that type of housing. We did receive HUD funding a couple of years ago for a project on the west side of Los Angeles for a Safe Haven, which the city of Santa Monica supported. Recently, the provider purchased a building and they are developing it. That would be another model that would come to mind.
Ms. WATERS. I am not convinced, based on my limited conversation with you today, that that population, I guess that is what we are all referring to as the chronically homeless, is being serviced or can be serviced in the way that I am talking about.
I just want to say this. You know, we have got the chronic homeless who have gone from shelter to shelter to shelter to shelter. They change corners and they change pocket parks and they die on the street. We know that. At some point in time, we have to recognize that. We have to know the difference between those that we can transition and we can get services for and we can get into jobs and homes and houses and places that they can manage, and those that cannot. I guess that is what we are trying to talk about. But I am not hearing what I need to hear to believe that we are going to be committed to doing that.
The other thing that I have not heard is I have not heard that there has been housing specifically developed for this clientele, with the support services. And when I say ''support,'' I mean everything. I mean the central kitchen. I mean the psychiatric services. I mean the daily services that keep people busy and involved and all of that.
I know it is costly, but I just do not hear us admitting that that is what we have to have.
Mr. MANGANO. I think the Samaritan Initiative would fund exactly that, and there are a number of other programs sponsored by HUD and HHS, including the Safe Havens that Mitchell mentioned that in fact do target that population. So I want to assure you that that population is being served. In fact, again in your home state, in San Francisco, the Direct Access to Housing program master leases buildings and in those buildings places people who we would have thought, if we passed by them on the street, they will never get off the street. In fact, those people are now placed in those buildings and slowly their lives are turning around and they are living in those buildings.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Well, I appreciate that. I am going to go out and search and take a look and see what is out there. But I know that in downtown Los Angeles, there are people who have been on the streets many, many years and they have baskets that they have been rolling around for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years. I think it is senseless to talk about anything other than permanent services for them. I hope this initiative will get to that.
Mr. MANGANO. To the degree that they are placed in housing, the services will last as long as they are needed, to assure you of that. So if it is needed for a lifetime, the services would last that long, because it is done in partnership with the local communities as well. So I think there is a responsiveness to that population. Those are people who are targeted by the Samaritan Initiative.
Ms. WATERS. We shall see. Thank you.
Chairman NEY. I want to thank the gentlelady. For the record, the National Low Income Housing Coalition has a statement for the record, a resolution of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, agency statements by HUD, HHS, the Department of Labor, and Veterans Affairs.
The Chair notes some members may have additional questions for this panel and might want to submit them in writing. Without objection, the hearing record will remain open for 30 days.
I appreciate your testimony and your passion for this issue and your frontline work on this issue.
I really appreciate Congressman Renzi. I think it is a good bill that begins the process of seeing how the government can come together with the private sector in a lot of different areas to utilize the funding in a collective, collaborative way to help the homeless.
Thank you. The meeting is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:04 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
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