One of the unique challenges of federal advocacy has long and increasingly been the degree of partisanship that makes it increasingly difficult to champion sound, bipartisan legislation. We remain fortunate in Ohio to have a pair of U.S. senators in Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R) who continue to reach across the aisle on a range of issues, including those that are consistent with the public policy imperatives of the human services sector.
So as rancor continues to rankle Washington, we are pleased to articulate our support for a pair of thoughtful measures that represent excellent public policy and that we hope may soon become law: One championed by Sen. Brown, and one championed by Sen. Portman.
Sen. Brown has introduced legislation with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) to help stabilize young people in foster care as they age out of the system and transition into living independent lives. The legislation, should it become law, would make it easier for public housing agencies to request a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) for a young person on the cusp of leaving foster care. Currently, the program only allows for 300 of the 4,000 housing agencies to request HCVs. Under the Act, all housing agencies would be able to request vouchers for foster youth, and the amount of time a foster youth can use the voucher would be extended if they were in self-sufficiency programs or were receiving other training or education.
Sen. Portman has introduced legislation with Sen. Michael Bennett (D) to address the ongoing eviction crisis disrupting the lives of individuals and families across the country. The legislation would collect and utilize data to inform better public policy, and mitigate the consequences of an eviction once it becomes inevitable–from increasing resources for legal services to increased funding for emergency assistance funds.
While both pieces of legislation specifically address housing issues, they’re both broadly relevant to human and social services as a whole: There is no shortage of research underscoring the intertwined and elemental importance of housing in ensuring improved access to a range of services, and to an array of improved outcomes.
As we have noted in past missives, we remain concerned with many regulations and executive orders emanating from Washington. However, we are grateful for the bipartisan leadership of our state’s U.S. senators in pushing for good public policy solutions to this pressing issue in 2020.