Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Warren (D-Mass.) and a group of their colleagues to support the Public Health Emergency Shelter Act, legislation that would provide funding to states and local governments responding to families and individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

“Homeless Americans, especially those living unsheltered, are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Our pandemic response efforts must acknowledge the vulnerability of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This bill will provide much-needed funding for state and local governments to help homeless individuals get off the street and into housing or shelter, improve access to personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies and prevent further spread of the coronavirus. I’m proud to join my colleagues on this bill,” said Senator Feinstein.

“Americans need access to stable housing to protect themselves and their families from coronavirus,” said Senator Warren. “There is an urgent need to expand the availability of emergency shelter, ensure access to soap, running water, and other safety needs, and support frontline workers providing critical supports to individuals experiencing homelessness.  I won't stop fighting until families experiencing homelessness have access to shelter and safety needs during this crisis.”

In addition to Feinstein and Warren, the legislation is also supported by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

The Public Health Emergency Shelter Act would protect individuals experiencing homelessness-and the frontline health care workers who serve them-during this public health emergency by providing $11.5 billion for the Emergency Solutions Grant program under the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act.

The funding for these grants, which support direct engagement with individuals experiencing homelessness, shelter operation and services, rapid re-housing, and prevention services-will be delivered via a formula that accounts for the risk of transmission, rate of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness and economic and housing market conditions. The bill provides flexibility for use of funding and includes provisions waiving certain requirements, like matching funds, to streamline funding for providers.