HEARTH Act Goes to the President for Signature

May 20, 2009

Yesterday both the House and Senate passed the final version of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. This version includes the controversial HEARTH (Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing) Act. The legislation has been sent to the President, who’s expected to sign it later today.

As those of you who’ve been following this blog know, I and many other advocates have serious concerns about the HEARTH Act–particularly its definition of homeless persons who will be eligible for assistance.

The definition is better than the one it replaces, but it will still exclude numerous homeless individuals and families. The legislation will also preserve, virtually intact, the old, even more restrictive definition used for the annual homeless counts.

I seriously doubt that Congress will want to revisit the issues any time soon. But that doesn’t mean we should give up. We need to keep building the case for expanding the eligibility criteria. We also, I think, need to try to form a broader coalition so that, next time round, all the major advocacy organizations are speaking with a single voice.