20070719 homeless 73453885 18
People walk by a homeless man as he sleeps in the park across from San Francisco's city hall. - 


Doug Krizner: Today in Washington advocates for the homeless will commemorate passage of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. But in the 20 years since then, the number of homeless in the U.S. has more than doubled, so the anniversary is being called a bittersweet. And today bittersweet chocolate is being sent to each member of Congress. They're being asked to increase investment for affordable housing. Jeff Tyler reports.

Jeff Tyler: On any given night, more than 700,000 Americans are homeless.

Meanwhile, federal spending to combat the problem has risen from less than $400 million in 1987 to almost $2 billion today.

Laurel Weir: Unfortunately, the increase in funding for homeless programs has not kept pace with the decrease in funding for affordable housing for low-income people.

That's Laurel Weir, policy director for the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. She says the Feds need to double the budget for fighting homelessness.

Weir: The federal government should also appropriate funds for housing vouchers for homeless veterans to prevent homelessness among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Weir wants Congress to set aside an additional $5 billion to enact a national housing trust fund. That, she says, would help prevent low-income Americans from ever becoming homeless in the first place.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace