Despite Progress of McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Over 3 Million Remain Homeless in U.S.


National Alliance to End Homelessness

Press Releases | February 25, 2009

July 18, 2007

Contact: Lauren Wright

Homeless Advocates Join Congress in Acknowledging McKinney-Vento’s 20th Anniversary.

Washington, DC – Thursday, July 19 marks the 20th anniversary of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, when members of Congress, homeless advocates, and those who have experienced homelessness will gather to review the persistent presence of mass homelessness in the U.S.

The attendees, including Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, as well as other members of congress, will issue a Consensus Statement which will call for the reauthorization of McKinney-Vento programs by the 110th Congress and reflect on what they deem a “Bittersweet Anniversary.”

Advocates will give participants bittersweet chocolate bars with labels listing 10 steps that Congress and the Administration can take to end homelessness in the U.S., where 750,000 people are homeless each night and as many as 3 million experience homelessness over the course of a year.

The steps will include reauthorizing and doubling funds for the McKinney-Vento programs as well as creating more permanent, affordable housing for low income households.

Despite the McKinney Act, homelessness is more prevalent today than when President Ronald Reagan signed the Act into law in 1987. With over 13 million extremely low income people paying a disproportionate amount of their salary for housing or living in substandard housing, the McKinney-Vento Act, while providing much in the way of emergency homelessness services and shelter funding, has not been enough. Congress has failed to provide the amount of affordable housing necessary to end what has become a national epidemic.

“Despite all of this investment and hard work, homelessness has not been eliminated, and while in a small number of pioneering communities homelessness is decreasing, in most communities the numbers continue to go up,” said Nan Roman, President of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “If we had an adequate supply of affordable housing, as we did as recently as the 1970s, we would not have widespread homelessness, which we did not have back then,” Roman said.

Communities that are succeeding in reducing the number of people who are homeless have demonstrated that certain strategies work. For example, supportive housing (housing linked with services) has been proven effective in ending homelessness for people with disabilities: a sub-population of homeless people that tends to stay homeless the longest, at great public expense not only to homeless programs, but also to health, hospital, corrections and other systems.

Another example of an effective approach is Housing First, which emphasizes moving people who are homeless into permanent affordable housing linked to supportive services as quickly as possible, minimizing stays in shelter or other temporary housing. The Senate Appropriations Committee recently included $25 million in its bill to fund HUD programs for new funding for communities to implement this kind of rapid re-housing approach for homeless families.

The statistics have shown that these approaches are working. Portland, Oregon recently released a report attributing a 70 percent decline in the number of chronically homeless people living on the street since 2005 to approaches like Housing First, while other regions like Westchester County in New York and Hennepin County in Minnesota have reduced family homelessness by nearly 60 and 40 percent respectively due to similar permanent, affordable housing approaches.


The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, mission- driven organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States. The Alliance analyzes policy and develops pragmatic, cost- effective policy solutions. Working collaboratively with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build state and local capacity, the Alliance provides data and research that lead to stronger programs and policies that help communities achieve their goal of ending homelessness. For more information on The National Alliance to End Homelessness, visit: