The Homeless Children and Youth Act has broad support among local service providers and educators – here’s why.
Margaret R. Schuelke, Executive Director, Project Community Connections, Inc., Decatur, GA – “Inspired by a mother and son struggling with homelessness, five well-established Atlanta organizations joined forces in 2010 to address the growing number of homeless families with school-aged children…The success of this collaboration is largely dependent on maintaining a streamlined, efficient referral process for homeless children and youth to access homeless services. That’s why I support the Homeless Children and Youth Act.” Read more.
Mattie Lord, Chief Program Officer, UMOM New Day Centers, Phoenix, AZ
“…At our initial meeting with families, prior to admitting them to shelter, we conduct an interview regarding barriers to housing in the community. A ‘low barrier’ family might be a single mother with 2 children who owes utility company money, a situation fairly easy to resolve. A ‘high barrier’ family might be a single mother under the age of 25 with 5 children, no high school diploma or GED, no employment experience, no income, and a history of mental illness. Certainly both families have needs, but which children need HUD’s resources most? What if the low barrier family resides in shelter and the high barrier family lives ‘doubled up’ in a 2 bedroom apartment with a host family? Does that change your opinion? As the law stands, the low barrier family is eligible for HUD homeless services, but the high barrier family is not. HR32 empowers the community to decide who to serve based on need and available resources.” Read more.
Beth McCullough, School District Homeless Liaison, Adrian School District, MI –
“Those opposing the Homeless Children and Youth Act argue that doubled up children are not as vulnerable as children in shelters. Aren’t doubled up children taken care of by the family they are doubled up with? After all, there was someone who took them in? Those children are not as vulnerable as the children in shelter…right? My answer is that sometimes doubled up children are more at-risk.” Read more.
Melissa Chapman, School District Homeless Liaison, Amarillo Independent School District, TX – “As a Homeless Liaison at Amarillo ISD, I continue to work with a growing number of families living in motels or doubled up because of various reasons who are excluded from assistance with programs because they do not qualify as “Homeless” under HUD’s definition…Unfortunately, I see too many parents become frustrated with the system and give up. They feel like failures and return to drugs or other unhealthy coping mechanisms because it is just too difficult to receive the assistance they need.” Read more.
Peri Stone-Palmquist, Program Manager, The Education Project, Washtenaw Intermediate School District –
“It has become clear to me that HUD’s definition is artificial and creates barriers for some of our neediest families and children to receive help…The HUD rules requires the person a family is living with to verify the doubled up situation, when most families are trying to keep this a secret for fear of having everyone be evicted. The last time I saw a school push that issue, the family was kicked out and had to sleep in their car. Of course, then they were eligible for HUD housing services.” Read more.
Kim Snell, ATLAS Liaison, Rutherford County Schools, TN – “Today I learned of another situation. A family with 5 little girls in elementary and middle school… The youngest girl said, ‘We were making too much noise every day. We were just playing, but they didn’t like us.’ So they were told to leave. Mom is living in her van so she can get to work, and all 5 girls have gone to stay with their aunt in a town about 50 miles away in a different county…Mom hopes to get them all into a motel room soon. Her credit is bad, so she doesn’t think she will be able to get into any kind of stable housing.” Read more.
Heather Lawhead, Homeless Liaison, Aberdeen School District, Aberdeen, WA –
“It is my experience that families who are seeking shelter in long term stay motels are as ‘homeless’ as individuals who are staying in shelters…Motel rooms have neither kitchen facilities nor laundry facilities. Lack of ability to store and prepare foods causes increased spending on ready-made foods. Inability to do laundry increases household spending. Shelters have such facilities, but local shelter would have split the family up by gender. Tough choice.” Read more.
Ryan Strack, Homeless Liaison, School District 622, MN –
“As a homeless liaison, I’ve often had to clarify what it means to be homeless under differing state and federal definitions. I frequently hear about misunderstandings or misconceptions that our young people who are ‘doubled-up’ are actually living comfortably with a grandparent on a long-term and stable basis. The reality for our doubled-up families and students is often much more harsh… H.R. 32 would allow families in these situations, at the local program’s discretion, to at least have a chance to access needed services when they cannot provide the unobtainable documentation and certifications currently required. Read more.
Sheree Conyers, School District Homeless Liaison, Jefferson County Public Schools, CO – “Jefferson County Public Schools Homeless Services Program serves one of the largest populations of students experiencing homelessness in the State of Colorado. It is often the children who face the greatest disservice…. The motels that our families are currently staying in are deplorable. It is no exaggeration to say they are filthy, and not fit for habitation. It is understandable that families fear for their health and safety staying in some of these locations. Our program does not let staff go out alone to do outreach, as it would be unsafe. Is this where you would have your children play?” Read more.
Vicki Garland, School District Homeless Liaison, Josiah Bartlett School, NH – “I am the homeless liaison for a K-8 school of under 300 students in northern, rural, New Hampshire. At Christmas time we has six children living in motels. One family with four children started in our district in September. They were camping in the woods behind our school. Once it got cold they began moving from one motel to another. They applied for all sorts of social services, but were denied due to lack of documentation, including birth certificates.” Read more.
Elizabeth Hinz, District Liaison for Homeless Students, Minneapolis Public Schools, MN – “There are many children and youth with their families constantly moving in and out of very fluid situations… Staying in a shelter would be relatively stable. The specific details are more than any school staff can keep track. These children and their families are homeless, and this way of life affects their well being and their futures in every way. Too few children become the exceptions who can meet or exceed academic goals.” Read more.
Joe Willard, People’s Emergency Center, Philadelphia, PA - “PEC receives 10 calls a day from a family looking for emergency housing. We have to turn them away. The City of Philadelphia gets calls every day from families and has to turn them away. Why? There is not enough housing or resources because legislators do not understand the true size and scope of homelessness. Read more.