In September 2019, word of possible federal intervention on homelessness in California by the Administration circulated in the news. Then, on Monday, September 16th, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers released a troubling "State of Homelessness in America" report, which outlined actions the Administration may take as part of this intervention.
January 2017-Present: President Trump leads an administration focused on policy changes that create and perpetuate homelessness, to include requesting massive funding cuts to anti-poverty programs, eliminating the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, adding work requirements to Medicaid and food stamps, and expanding penalties for immigrants who use social benefit programs (just to name a few).
July 2019: In an interview with Tucker Carlson, President Trump commented on the homelessness crisis, expressing extreme concern (particularly at the visibility of homelessness). He largely blames liberals and sanctuary cities for the homelessness “phenomena that started two years ago.”
Mid-September 2019: White House officials toured public housing and encampments in California and news broke that the Trump administration was considering action on homelessness. Advocates are very concerned that impending action would further criminalize homelessness.
Late September 2019: The White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report: The State of Homelessness in America. The report misrepresents evidence and asserts that homelessness is caused by overregulation of housing markets, the “tolerability” and availability of shelters, and “individual characteristics” like mental illness and poverty.
November 2019: The Administration requested Matthew Doherty to stepped down as Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). During this, speculation started to circulate of an upcoming Executive Order from the Administration pointed towards using some sort of federal intervention to address homelessness targeted at California but having impact nationally.
December 2019: The Administration hired Robert Marbut as the new Executive Director of USICH. Marbut had a long history of convincing local governments that the solution to homelessness lies in large-scale shelters rather than in housing-based approaches causing concern for many in the homelessness sector.
Early January 2020: A letter from HUD Sec. Ben Carson to Los Angele Mayor Eric Garcetti circulated, confirming fears of the Administration’s attempt to strike a deal with the city to address the homelessness crisis. In it, it ties certain policy changes such as “empowering and utilizing law enforcement” and use of “federal land” for shelters to the federal funding the Administration would provide.
Mid-January 2020: Sources reveal that the Administration is backing away from an Executive Order in pursuit of targeting cities with a large unsheltered homelessness population and attempting to reach a “strings attached” deal with each in efforts to claim a political “win” in those communities and states.
February 2020: President Trump releases his proposed FY21 budget which include cuts to HUD by $8.6 billion or 15% below 2020 enacted levels. The proposal would eliminate vital housing programs, including the national Housing Trust Fund and all funding for public housing capital repairs. It would also eliminate the HOME Investments Partnership program and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), significantly decreasing much needed resources for affordable housing, community development, and solutions to homelessness.
March 2020: On March 4, 2020, Secretary Ben Carson testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) of the Committee on Appropriations In his testimony, he admitted he is actively trying to find ways around language built into FY20 budget that requires HUD to adhere to the FY18 NOFA. This caused the THUD Appropriations Committee to pay special attention to language that could allow for criminalization of homelessness in budget bills that go beyond FY20.
Funders Together to End Homelessness is working with our Board of Directors, national partners, and close advisers around the philanthropic response and possible long-term strategies.We are also working to provide resources, talking points, media opportunities, member and partners statements, and other related content for funders which will be compiled on this resource page. We encourage you to check back often or reach out to Funders Together if you would like assistance in crafting messaging for a statement of your own.
If your organization has a resource or statement you would like listed here, please contact Lauren Bennett.
Funders Together Resources
California Health Care Foundation: White House Puts National Spotlight on California Homelessness
Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland: “Housing is the Answer” – SOCF Statement on White House Homelessness Report
United Way of Greater Los Angeles: President Trump's Visit to LA
National Alliance to End Homelessness: Statement from the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Response to the White House Council of Economic Advisers’ Report on Homelessness
National Alliance to End Homelessness: White House Council of Economic Advisers' State of Homelessness in America Talking Points
National Health Care for the Homeless Council: An Open Letter to President Trump from National Homeless Advocates
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty:White House Policy Paper on Homelessness Misrepresents Evidence, Drives Wrong Conclusions
National Low Income Housing Coalition: Statement from NLIHC President & CEO Diane Yentel on The Council of Economic Advisers’ Report on Homelessness in America
National Low Income Housing Coalition: The Case for Housing First
National Low Income Housing Coalition: The Primary Causes and Solutions to Homelessness
Urban Institute: The Homelessness Blame Game
Regardless of the topic, whenever I leave the flurry of work and family life for three days to attend a funder network meeting, I can’t help but find myself wondering “Will it be worth it?” It was much easier to embrace this risk after learning that the 2019 Funders Forum would be held in San Diego at a time of year when my home town, Omaha, Nebraska, has endured a particularly brutal winter including more than 50 inches of snow and -20-degree temperatures.
See the latest posts around our members' work, recent events, and what's happening in the homelessness field.
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