Washington—The Senate today unanimously approved an amendment offered by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to the Every Child Achieves Act that would eliminate barriers to children receiving assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) homeless assistance programs.
Current HUD regulations require homeless children and families to be certified as homeless before they can receive assistance, but obtaining that certification is overly burdensome. Homeless children and families are constantly on the move. They are frequently unable to provide documentation of their whereabouts or proof that they will only be staying at their current location, whether it be a motel or friend’s couch, temporarily.
The amendment adopted by the Senate would allow school personnel to certify that children are homeless and eligible for HUD services by writing a letter on their behalf. This would make it easier for homeless children to receive the services they are already eligible for.
“More children in this country are homeless than ever before, and we know that homelessness makes it much more difficult for children to learn,” said Senator Feinstein. “We should be making it easier for these children to get help, not harder. By allowing teachers and school personnel to verify that children are homeless, it will be easier for them to get the help they deserve and succeed in school.”
“Persistent poverty makes it difficult for children to achieve their full potential at school,” Senator Portman stated. “Our commonsense reforms will open up access to federal assistance programs for homeless students, giving them a better chance of completing high school and going on to live productive and fulfilled lives.”
According to the Department of Education, more than 1.3 million children nationwide were homeless during the 2013-2014 school year, including more than 310,000 in California and nearly 29,000 in Ohio.