As Prepared For Delivery:
Mercedes, thank you for that kind introduction—and, more importantly, for your tireless efforts to address homelessness in Los Angeles.
And Mayor Bass, I want thank you so much for your tremendous leadership and advocacy. It has been wonderful to collaborate with you on this critical issue. More on that collaboration in a minute.
Good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to be back here in Los Angeles. As a proud Bruin, I will always keep a special place in my heart for LA.
I’d like to start by thanking the U.S. Conference of Mayors for hosting this important discussion on addressing homelessness—one of America’s most important policy challenges.
Mayors are on the front lines of this struggle facing cities and communities across our nation, and your leadership is crucial.
Homelessness is a challenge we face as a nation—but it is a solvable one.
From Day One, President Biden has made it a top priority to lower rental costs and keep people in their homes, and provide communities with the resources they need to address homelessness.
In 2021, he signed the American Rescue Plan, the largest single-year investment in ending homelessness in U.S. history.
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, homelessness did not increase during the pandemic—despite unprecedented economic strain.
This proves that we can make progress on homelessness, even during the most difficult times.
We learned that, in addition to helping house people who are experiencing homelessness, we especially need to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.
From 2017 to 2020, approximately 900,000 people exited homelessness each year.
But 930,000 became homeless.
That shows why prevention strategies are essential to any federal policy addressing homelessness.
While there are many causes of homelessness, President Biden understands the biggest: We simply do not have enough homes that people can afford.
And that’s why the Biden-Harris Administration has made increasing the housing supply and lowering the cost of housing a top priority.
I’m pleased to share that we are making important progress towards our goals.
In fact, we are on track to build more apartments this year than any year on record.
That’s great news—but we have more work to do.
Today, I’m so pleased to announce new actions that the Administration is taking to prevent and address homelessness:
First, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is issuing guidance to public housing agencies highlighting flexibilities in the Housing Choice Voucher program.
This guidance will help communities break down barriers that delay people’s access to the assistance they need to move from the streets or temporary housing into healthy, stable, affordable homes.
Second, the Department of Housing and Human Services (HHS) and HUD is launching the Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator.
This accelerator will provide deep technical assistance to support states that want to use Medicaid programs to expand innovative housing-related supports and services.
That application is open now.
And stay tuned: We hope to soon announce guidance to make it easier for states to use Medicaid waivers to address health-related social needs, like covering short-term housing if someone needs a stable place to recover after surgery.
Finally, HUD is making $50 million available to communities through the Youth Homeless System Improvement Program.
The grants will support selected communities to develop systems infrastructure to better address youth homelessness.
The goal of the grants is to increase the capacity of communities to respond to the needs of youth at-risk of or experiencing homelessness in the community.
These announcements are powerful tools to support you in your efforts locally.
Before I close, I want to express appreciation for Mayor Bass and the great partnership we’ve had since she took office. She has been a tremendous advocate for Los Angeles, and we’ve benefited from her insights.
For example, earlier this year Mayor Bass raised to us challenges they were having moving people off the streets and into housing using the voucher program. People were getting caught up in red tape, because they had to prove their income before they could move into the unit.
Working with Mayor Bass and her team, we were able to grant a waiver to the program rules, so that homeless individuals were deemed presumptively eligible for vouchers—this allowed them to move into housing and then verify their income. This was a big deal.
These are the kind of pain points we want to help you to address. We’re eager to partner with you to accelerate the work you are doing in your communities. Please let us know how we can support your efforts.
And please keep the good ideas coming.
We love to listen—as Mayor Bass’s advocacy showed.
Thank you, and look forward to answering your questions.