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Understanding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs
July 15, 2009
So last week I did something new – the release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), so I thought this week I’d do something old: the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistant Act. The LAWMAKERS The McKinney-Vento Act was authored by Stewart Brett McKinney – a Republican Congressman from Connecticut – and Bruce Frank Vento – a Democratic-Farm-Labor Congressman from Minnesota, both of whom were known to their peers as advocates of those less fortunate, and dedicated to finding supportive programs and solutions to homelessness. The bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan, who – ironically - is often accused of contributing to modern-day homelessness by deinstitutionalizing mental health facilities in the 1980s. The POLICY The McKinney-Vento Act was a comprehensive, multi-faceted bill that:
- Established the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a group of representatives from 15 federal agencies charged to design a comprehensive approach to reduce, prevent, and end homelessness in the country, and
- Created 20 assistance programs administered by nine federal agencies providing a spectrum of services to homeless people, including supportive housing, emergency shelter, emergency food and shelter grants, rental assistance, job training and education, etc.
- Expanded the number of activities eligible for McKinney funding.
- Expanded the Homeless Children and Youth program, and specified the obligations of state and local communities to ensure that homeless youth and children have access to public education.
- Created new programs, including the Shelter Plus Care Program and a health care for the homeless program.
- Renamed the Community Mental Health Services program to Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness program (PATH).