Highlights from the Homeless Children and Youth Act Hearing

The Homeless Children and Youth Act (HR 1511/S 611) is a bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would make it easier for communities to assist homeless children, youth, and families.

Earlier, we reported on the June 6, 2018, House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on HR 1511, and included videos of each witness testimony. Yet some of the most illuminating moments came during the question and answer period.

Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH), the lead author of HR 1511, kicked off the questioning by clarifying what the legislation does, and the ways in which “invisibly homeless people” are in some of the most dangerous situations.


Chairman Duffy asked Millie Rounsville, CEO of the Northwest Wisconsin Community Service Agency, about the challenges of responding to homelessness in rural areas, as well as the shortcomings of HUD’s Point in Time Count.


Ranking Member Cleaver (D-MO) raised a question about whether “erratically housed” families and youth should “skip the line” ahead of other families and youth. Both Ms. Lilley and Ms. Rounsville both corrected this misperception and pointed out how the legislation would benefit the most vulnerable children, youth, and families.


Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-PA) submitted testimony for the record from HEARTH, a successful program in his Congressional district that has been disadvantaged by HUD’s rules. Congressman Rothfus then asked Ms. Lilley and Ms. Rounsville how HUD’s decision to defund transitional housing has impacted people in their communities.


Congressman David Trott (R-MI) asked questions to determine why the National Alliance to End Homelessness opposes the Homeless Children and Youth Act. He also asked the entire panel what one or two changes would they would make to the CoC program, beyond changing HUD’s definition of homelessness.


Congresswoman Moore (D-WI), a co-sponsor of the legislation, voiced concern that it might “bring in a universe of people.” Ms. Duffield responded to this misconception and pointed out how the Homeless Children and Youth Act creates efficiencies. 


Ms. Duffield: “The HEARTH Act changes didn’t work, or we wouldn’t be here. The categories that were added are not meeting those who are most vulnerable. We’re actually creating the system that’s so complicated, that we spend millions of dollars on technical assistance to figure it out. We have flowcharts, like this, with the definition of chronic homelessness. So what is the better use of time: documenting all of this, figuring out the layers, figuring out all the regulations that HUD added on to those categories; or, talking to a school social worker who knows the child, talking to a Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program who knows the child? What’s the better use of time: taking advantage of existing systems that have identified these kids already, and helping them collaborate better and leverage services; or, running around documenting their status and all of the many hoops that HUD has put before these children?”

Watch the full hearing and read the written testimonies.

Now is the time to take action to advance the Homeless Children and Youth Act!

  1. Contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 1511. (See sample letter)
  2. Contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to co-sponsor S. 611. (See sample letter)
  3. Add your organization to the list of supporters, here.

Learn more about the Homeless Children and Youth Act.

Take Action

Tell your U.S. Representative that all homeless children and youth need help,­ no matter where they happen to be staying. Take action here.

Add your organization or office to the list of Homeless Children and Youth Act supporters. Click here to become a supporter.

Listen to Youth

There is no better way to understand homelessness than listening to the children and youth who have been through it. Listen to what they have to say.

Get the Facts

The Homeless Children and Youth Act is bi-partisan legislation that would make it easier for local communities to help homeless children, youth, and families. Get the facts.

Featured Video

About the photos: Photos of children and youth experiencing homelessness provided by Diane Nilan, HEAR US Inc., used with permission. (c) 2012, Diane Nilan, HEAR US Inc.