Summary of HEARTH Act

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National Alliance to End Homelessness

Federal Policy Brief | October 21, 2008

Files: PDF | 128 KB | 9 pages

On May 20, 2009, President Obama signed into law a bill to reauthorize HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs. The bill was included as part of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. The McKinney-Vento reauthorization provisions are identical to those included in two bills introduced earlier this year, both known as the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act. The Senate bill (S. 808) was introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Kit Bond (R-MO), and 11 other Senators. The House bill (H.R. 1877) was introduced by Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Judy Biggert (R-IL), and 5 other House Members.

Now that the bill is enacted, HUD will have up to 18 months to develop regulations to implement the new McKinney program.

Background

HUD's McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs were last reauthorized in the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992. Since then, numerous proposals have been debated, but controversies prevented Congress from passing any significant reauthorizations. However, a number of changes were made to the McKinney-Vento programs by HUD and by Congress through the annual appropriations process. The most significant change by HUD was the creation of the Continuum of Care process, which was first implemented in 1995.

In September 2007, the Senate Banking Committee approved the Community Partnership to End Homelessness Act (S. 1518). The HEARTH Act (H.R. 840) was introduced in the House in February 2007 by the late Congresswoman Julia Carson (D-IN) and Congressman Geoff Davis (R - KY).

On July 31, 2008, the House Financial Services Committee approved the bill and several amendments to it by voice vote. After discussions between House and Senate staff, a compromise was agreed to that closely resembled S. 1518 and H.R. 840. The compromise was passed by the House as H.R. 7221 on a 355-61 vote. However, the bill did not pass the Senate before the end of the session.

On April 2, 2009, Senators Reed, Bond, and 11 other Senators and Representatives Moore, Biggert, and 5 other House Members introduced identical versions of a McKinney-Vento reauthorization bill, the HEARTH Act. That measure was attached by amendment to the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act (S. 896), which was enacted on May 20, 2009. The HEARTH Act makes numerous changes to HUD's homeless assistance programs.

Those changes are outlined in this 9-page PDF document.