Bittersweet anniversary for the homeless

Jeff Tyler Jul 19, 2007


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.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.