WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is sponsoring legislation aimed at reducing homelessness by addressing some of its root causes, including poverty, mental illness and substance addiction.
The bill, known formally as the Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act, would offer $5 billion in federal grants over five years for communities that provide stable housing along with other social services, according to a news release from Shaheen’s office.
The funding, which is meant to help plan and administer those resources, could then go to private organizations doing that work, such as health-care providers and job-training agencies. However, it would be available only to communities that offer both housing opportunities and “comprehensive” social services.
In the release, Shaheen said policies to address homelessness “must take into account how poverty, mental illness and substance misuse exacerbate cycles of housing insecurity.
“This legislation pairs critical services like counseling and mental health treatment with housing support, addressing the root causes of homelessness,” she said. “I’ll continue fighting in the Senate to ensure Granite Staters have the services and support they need for their health and housing security.”
Nearly 4,500 people in New Hampshire experienced homelessness between July 2019 and June 2020, according to a report from the N.H. Coalition to End Homelessness.
The legislation that Shaheen and several other Democratic senators introduced last week would offer up to $25 million to help communities reduce housing insecurity, including by supporting existing programs and new capital projects. Other social services that could be offered include educational opportunities and life-skill training programs, such as financial literacy courses. Grant recipients would be required to contribute 25 percent of project funds and to submit annual progress reports.
The bill would also offer up to $100,000 to help communities develop plans to address homelessness or enhance existing programs. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.