Housing and Homelessness
“Too many members of our community are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. While there is no silver bullet to end homelessness and make housing affordable, there are many ways Congress and the federal government can work with local communities to address these urgent challenges.”
- Rep. Adam Schiff
Providing Emergency Housing Assistance in Federal Coronavirus Relief Legislation
The unprecedented health and economic disruption resulting from the coronavirus pandemic have created new challenges for renters, homeowners, and people experiencing homelessness, and Rep. Adam Schiff has fought for substantial federal assistance to help meet these challenges.
Rep. Schiff urged House leadership to provide more than $100 billion in direct assistance to renters, homeowners, and homeless services providers facing insecurity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as protections against evictions and foreclosures, and voted in favor of these important provisions when they were passed by the House as part of the Heroes Act and the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act in June 2020.
Rep. Schiff also strongly supported the housing provisions of the CARES Act, which passed the House and was signed into law in March 2020. This relief package provided more than $7 billion in emergency funding for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs to help low-income and working-class Americans avoid housing disruption caused by loss of employment or childcare, health crises, or other unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19. In addition, the CARES Act included mortgage forbearance for homeowners and eviction protections for renters in all properties with federally backed loans, as well as direct relief payments and expanded unemployment compensation to help families meet their housing expenses.
Addressing the Homelessness Crisis
Rep. Schiff recognizes the continuing crisis of homelessness in the Los Angeles area and across our state and since coming to Congress he has fought for increased federal funding to support state and local government and community organizations that are working to address this issue.
Schiff believes that we have to address the root causes of homelessness by providing supportive housing and services, which is why he has advocated for federal support for organizations that provide outreach, services, and permanent housing and programs, and particularly homeless veterans and their families. He has also supported federal efforts to make housing more affordable in general, like Housing Choice Vouchers.
In February 2020, Schiff introduced the Affordable and Homeless Housing Incentives Act, which would create new tax incentives to help nonprofits and public agencies acquire property to use as homeless shelters or affordable housing. This legislation would provide tax benefits to property owners who sell to public and nonprofit housing developers who agree to operate the property as affordable or homeless housing for at least thirty years. In communities with expensive real estate markets, like Los Angeles, this new incentive will provide public agencies and nonprofits who develop affordable and homeless housing an added advantage as they compete with private developers to acquire property.
Schiff is also a proud cosponsor of the Ending Homelessness Act, which would appropriate more than $13 billion in emergency funding for federal housing and homelessness initiatives to ensure that the federal government’s response to the homelessness crisis matches the scale of the problem. We have the resources and capacity to end homelessness, but it will require federal investment and leadership.
Increasing the Supply of Affordable Housing
Families around the country, and especially in California, have been hard hit by the lack of affordable housing. Housing has become particularly unaffordable in Los Angeles neighborhoods, and when the cost of rent outstrips the growth in incomes, more families will be at danger of homelessness. Rep. Adam Schiff is working to ensure that the federal government is doing all it can to reverse this trend.
Schiff has introduced the Affordable and Homeless Housing Incentives Act to create new tax incentives to help nonprofits and public agencies acquire property to use as affordable housing or homeless shelters. By providing tax incentives to property owners who sell to public and nonprofit affordable housing developers, this legislation will help housing agencies and nonprofits as they work to increase the supply of affordable housing in Los Angeles and other competitive real estate markets around the country.
Schiff is also a longtime supporter of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher program, which subsidizes rent for low-income families, and has fought to ensure that this and similar programs are adequately funded even when the Administration has sought to reduce its budget. Schiff has also worked with local Housing Authorities to make it easier for local housing authorities to administer these programs, particularly for tenants who have moved from one jurisdiction to another.
Combating Housing Discrimination
In May 2019, Rep. Schiff joined California colleagues in opposing proposed rules by the Trump Administration to prevent households with immigrant family members from receiving federal housing assistance. In Los Angeles, this proposal is estimated to affect more than 11,500 residents.
Schiff is also a co-sponsor and strong supporter of the Fair Housing Improvement Act to protect low-income families, veterans, and others who use federal vouchers to pay rent from housing discrimination. Already, low-income families and veterans have to endure long waiting periods – many longer than a year and a half – to receive federal housing assistance. If they are subsequently turned away by landlords for no other reason than the fact they receive government aid, that discrimination only perpetuates cycles of poverty and homelessness, preventing families from moving into neighborhoods with better schools and job opportunities. And, for communities of color that have been persistently excluded from housing opportunities, the ramifications of this discrimination and its subsequent economic disparities can be felt for generations.
Rep. Schiff believes homeownership can be an important way to secure housing and build wealth. He has hosted events in the district and supported federal programs to foster homeownership, particularly for first-time buyers and veterans.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Rep. Schiff fought to address the foreclosure crisis and hold financial institutions accountable. Throughout 2008 and 2009, his office advocated for hundreds of constituents seeking to avert foreclosures and helping them take advantage of federal support.
Securing Robust Federal Support for Housing Programs
Throughout his time in Congress, including as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Schiff has consistently fought for robust funding for federal housing programs. Most recently, in his funding requests for Fiscal Year 2021, Schiff urged House appropriators to provide over $31 billion in funding for federal housing programs, an increase of $4.67 billion over the President’s budget request.
For many years, Rep. Schiff has particularly prioritized federal funding for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, which provides housing support for persons with AIDS and related illnesses. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, Schiff requested $430 million for the program, and at the end of July 2020, the House passed a funding bill providing such amount.
Rep. Schiff has also prioritized funding for programs such as:
- Tenant-based Rental Assistance: Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are a form of tenant-based rental assistance funded by the federal government. Rep. Schiff requested $25.9 billion for Tenant-based Rental Assistance in FY21. The House passed Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill provided $25.8 billion.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH): HUD-VASH provides homeless veterans rental assistance in the form of Section 8 vouchers from HUD and supportive services from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Rep. Schiff advocated for the maximum amount of funding for the program and the House passed appropriations bill provided $2.5 million for HUD-VASH, an increase of $1.5 million above the enacted FY20 level.
- HUD-HOME Investment Partnership: The HOME Investment Partnerships Program is a housing block grant program administrated by HUD and designed to expand the supply of decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing. Rep. Schiff requested $1.5 billion for the program in FY21 and the House passed bill provided $1.7 billion for HOME.
Rep. Schiff has also sought federal support for local organizations, securing specific funding for Union Station Foundation in Pasadena, for example, and working with others in the Los Angeles delegation to allow the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus to be redeveloped into affordable housing.