September 19, 2007

BANKING COMMITTEE PASSES HOMELESSNESS LEGISLATION

Crapo amendment helps rural areas participate in more flexible program

Washington, DC - Assistance for the homeless in rural states like Idaho could improve due to an amendment, authored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and added to the Community Partnership to End Homelessness Act of 2007 (S. 1518). That bill cleared the Senate Banking Committee today, and will allow rural states to participate in a more flexible program to address the needs of rural homelessness.

The measure was approved by a voice vote, and included an amendment authored by Crapo and Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming). S. 1518 reauthorizes and strengthens the federal homeless programs (McKinney-Vento programs) by providing resources for homelessness prevention activity, expanding the definition of homeless, and creating a new rural program that provides additional flexibility and recognizes the realities of homelessness in rural communities.

"Many of the small non-profit organizations that administer homeless assistance funds have a very limited capacity to track, compile and present the kinds of data described under the performance-based application procedures originally conceived in this legislation," Crapo said. "My amendment allows rural states like Idaho, as well as individual communities, to qualify and compete in the new Rural Housing Stability Assistance Program, which is designed to be more flexible to address the needs of rural homelessness. The proposed simplified application and allowance for capacity building activities will help rural organizations access resources and improve their ability to access resources in the future."

As a part of the reforms, the New Rural Housing Stability Assistance program also expands the list of eligible activities to include construction, acquisition, rehabilitation, leasing, rental assistance, and operating costs for transitional or permanent housing for homeless people. It also clarifies that public non-profits like the Idaho Housing and Finance can apply for and distribute funds.