On October 12, 2021, the Law Center will host our 23rd McKinney-Vento Awards. These Awards, named after Reps. Stewart B. McKinney and Bruce F. Vento–and the 1987 legislation that bears their names–gives us an opportunity to honor leaders and changemakers fighting to end homelessness, to celebrate the successes that we have all shared over the past year, and to honor the power of federal legislation.
This year, we are extraordinarily pleased to honor Jessica Bruder, author of Nomadland, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. More information about the honorees and the event will be shared over the coming weeks.
We also take this time to reflect on the groundbreaking McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and on the power of federal legislation. The McKinney-Vento Act was the first-ever federal legislation dedicated to protecting the rights of people experiencing homelessness and to creating real solutions toward ending homelessness.
Though there has been much more work to do, introduction of bold new federal bills add to the foundation laid over three decades ago. Recently-introduced legislation, including the Housing is a Human Right Act, Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2021, and Unhoused Bill of Rights are bold, decisive steps that not only implement real solutions, but provide the funding necessary to end homelessness in America.
We hope you will join us on October 12 to honor the legacy of past changemakers and to celebrate the momentum of current changemakers.
The Staff of the National Homelessness Law Center
Source of Income Anti-discrimination Laws Can Help Renters Access Emergency Rental Assistance
With billions of dollars of federal rental assistance still unspent, a major barrier to distribution of those funds appears to be landlord refusal to accept rent relief. In jurisdictions with fair housing laws that prohibit housing discrimination based on source of income, tenants may be protected against landlords who refuse to take rental assistance. On September 22, 2021, the Urban Institute published this blog post about the issue.
Source of income discrimination refers to the practice of denying housing to an applicant based on their lawful income. These denials will often serve as a pretext for other forms of discrimination, disproportionately affecting renters of color, women, and persons with disabilities.
HUD Introduces the House America Initiative
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in conjunction with the USICH, announced the House America initiative. The initiative refocuses the federal government to a Housing First approach, and not only provides programmatic outlines to address the crisis of homelessness, but provides funds and resources to enact the necessary changes.
The initiative draws on emergency funding provided by the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan and builds upon these temporary programs to create permanent, lasting policy and funding.
During Monday’s introduction of House America, agency leaders joined Mayors, Governors, and Tribal leaders to discuss how the collaborative, multi-level initiative will succeed in re-housing Americans to affordable, accessible, and safe permanent housing.
Resources will continue to be made available as this initiative progresses, and can be found here.
Budget Reconciliation Plan to Include Rental Assistance and Aid to Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
The Biden-Harris Administration has put forth a $3.5 trillion, 10-year spending plan that promises to provide relief to those affected by the affordable housing and eviction crises, among other expansions to the social safety net. On September 8, the House Financial Services Committee released its proposal for how to allocate these funds toward housing.
The Committee intends to earmark $90 billion for rental assistance, $75 billion of which will be used for housing choice vouchers to be made available to individuals who make 30% of the area median income. The other $15 billion earmarked for rental assistance will go toward Project-Based Rental Assistance, which seeks to ensure that newly developed properties are affordable for low-income renters.
Additionally, the Committee plans to set aside $80 billion to preserve public housing and $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund. There will also be $25 billion set aside for families and individuals experiencing homelessness or at immediate risk of becoming homeless.
While the full budget plan is unlikely to pass both chambers of the house, it can still be passed with 50 votes in the Senate through the process of reconciliation.
NEWS from the LAW CENTER
The Law Center Welcomes New HNH Campaign Manager, Lily Milwit
Lily Milwit graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in May 2021. While in law school, Lily worked as a student attorney with the Georgetown Juvenile Justice Clinic, where she advocated on behalf of court-involved youth in the District of Columbia. She was also the President of Georgetown’s chapter of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, and a member of Georgetown Law Students for Justice in Palestine, Georgetown Youth Advocates, and the Georgetown chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
While in law school, Lily served as a Research Assistant for multiple projects, including indigenous land dispossession, critical race theory and the law, and the role of the law in supporting social movements like Me Too and Black Lives Matter. She has interned with Lawyers for Children, The Poverty & Race Research Action Council, The National Partnership for Women & Families, Equal Justice Under Law, and Bread for the City.
If you’re interested in joining our team, we are still hiring for several new AmeriCorps VISTA positions. Check out the job description and how to apply on our website.
Register today for the 2021 McKinney-Vento Awards!
We are looking forward to sharing with you the names of our honorees and opportunities to become a sponsor for the event.
We hope to see you October 12th at 6pm EST to honor:
Stewart B. McKinney Award
Jessica Bruder, author of Nomadland
Bruce F. Vento Award
Pro Bono Counsel Award
Thank you to our 2021 McKinney-Vento Awards sponsors!
Law Center in the Media
For updates on the Law Center in the News, see here!
Changing Laws. Changing Lives.
The National Homelessness Law Center (the Law Center) is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to end and prevent homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.