Twenty-five years ago-on July 22, 1987-Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This landmark legislation provides federal funding for shelters and other services for people who are homeless. It also offered educational protections for children whose families do not have a home address.
The Law Center marked the occasion on July 19 with an event celebrating the Act’s successes, while laying out a vision for finally ending homelessness in America. The National Association of Realtors, with which the Law Center is working to ensure renters of foreclosed properties known their rights under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, hosted the event at its office overlooking the Capitol.
With remarks from U.S. Representative Judy Biggert, National Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Neil Donovan, and formerly homeless individuals Scott Lovell and Nhiahni Chestnut, the event demonstrated the importance of cooperation among policymakers, advocates, and the affected population.
Representative Biggert spoke on the pressing need for bipartisan support in addressing homelessness and poverty. She is co-chair of the House Congressional Caucus on Homelessness and has long supported many of the Law Center’s activities. She has introduced and continually worked for the passage of the Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act, which aims to expand on the protections for homeless children spelled out in the McKinney-Vento Act.
Mr. Lovell and Ms. Chestnut graciously shared their stories of overcoming chronic homelessness and securing stable housing. Their remarks were a powerful reminder of the real-life implications of public policy and reinforced the Law Center’s commitment to ensure no American is without a safe place to call home.
Documentary filmmaker Tom Morgan showed segments from his upcoming film, “These Storied Streets: Profiles of America’s Homeless,” and noted the need to address not just the consequences of homelessness, but also its root causes.
The event was co-sponsored by: the National Low Income Housing Coalition; National Center for Housing and Child Welfare; National Alliance to End Homelessness; Corporation for Supportive Housing; National Coalition for the Homeless; National Center on Family Homelessness; National Network for Youth; and First Focus.
The Law Center is proud of the accomplishments of the McKinney-Vento Act, but recognize that there is still much work to be done in order to end the homelessness crisis.