Housing and Homelessness
San Diego and America have a housing crisis. Rents are rising, while wages remain stagnant, and when people can’t make ends meet and don’t have support networks to care for them, they often lose their homes. It’s wrong that some San Diegans wait 10 years for rental assistance and it’s still not enough to put a roof over their heads. We need to build more housing for people of all income levels in a way that’s thoughtfully chartered for our communities. In order to address housing insecurity and homelessness, we should implement a coordinated, dedicated, and region-wide plan that gives people the resources and tools they need to find and sustain housing.
Advocating to Update the HUD Funding Formula
Since coming to Congress in 2013, I’ve been fighting to ensure San Diego receives its fair share of federal funding to address homelessness. I first contacted HUD about the formula in March of 2013 after a report found that in 2012, despite having the third largest homeless population in the country, San Diego received the 18th highest level of federal homelessness funding.
- March 2013: Sent a letter to then-HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan advocating for an update to the Continuum of Care funding formula.
- November 2013: Sent a letter with Representatives Vargas (CA-51) and Davis (CA-53) asking for a comment period to update the funding formula.
- September 2014: Sent letter to HUD Secretary Castro advocating for a funding formula update.
- January 2015: Met, and advocated for an update to the funding formula, with Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Chris O’Connor when Assistant Secretary O’Connor was in San Diego for the annual WeAllCount.
- February 2015: Call with officials from HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss ending veterans homelessness and updating the outdated federal funding formula.
- May 2015: Met with Secretary Castro on Capitol Hill to discuss the funding formula disparity and to advocate for an update, and the chance for San Diego input on the process.
- June 2015: Had a call with Secretary Castro to continue advocating for an update to the funding formula.
- October 2015: During a visit to San Diego, Secretary Castro announced his intention to reopen public comment on the funding formula.
- February 2016: Sponsored an amendment to H.R. 3700 requiring the HUD Secretary to reopen the public comment period on the Continuum of Care funding formula.
- May 2016: Announced commitment from Secretary Castro to reopen public comment period on formula no later than June 21st.
- June 2016: Spoke with Secretary Castro about his plan to provide detailed approaches to replace the formula by mid-July.
- July 2016: Announced the opening of the public comment period on four potential replacements for the formula.
- August 2016: San Diego leaders announced how San Diego’s homeless service providers and elected leaders are working to make the best case for San Diego to get more of its fair share of federal homelessness dollars.
Following the change in administrations, I sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with other San Diego Representatives to request the status of their analysis of the Public Comment Period feedback.
Supporting San Diego’s Housing Market
San Diego’s population is growing at a far greater rate than our supply of housing but there are ways that the federal government can help close this gap and support the development of new housing units. I’m working to incentivize more housing development as well as efforts to improve access to homeownership.
- Wrote an op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune about the unintended consequences that the California Environmental Quality Act has on the housing market, urging CEQA reform.
- Opposed the GOP tax bill, which would hurt California’s ability to develop affordable housing.
- Cosponsored the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, which increases consumer access to manufactured housing including mobile homes, for example). Scott also helped pass this bill in the 114th Congress when it was before the House for a vote.
Expanding Access to Benefits and Care
As we work to find permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, we also need to ensure they have supportive services. As a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I’ve highlighted the unique challenges associated with veteran homelessness and the innovative ways San Diego is working to address them.
- Participated in a committee hearing regarding the HUD-VASH rental assistance program for veterans and asked HUD what they are doing to address the gap between high housing costs and the value of vouchers veterans receive.
- Sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the Hepatitis A outbreak, which affected many homelessness individuals, requesting all federal resources necessary to address the crisis.
- Introduced the Shelter our Servicemembers (SOS) Act to provide elderly homeless veterans with stable housing and benefits
- Introduced the Housing Assistance Efficiency Act to clarify a HUD regulation and permit private non-profits to administer rental assistance
- Participate in San Diego’s annual Point in Time Count (PITC) to get a snapshot unsheltered homeless individuals and assess the availability and quality of existing services.
More on Housing and Homelessness
Yesterday, Reps. Scott Peters (CA-52) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) introduced the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, H.R. 3211. This bill creates a task force of academics or experts in fields related to housing to make recommendations to Congress about housing policy. The task force will also evaluate and measure the consequences of unstable, unaffordable housing on quality of life, as well as its effect on federal, state, and local budgets.
Yesterday, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced H.R. 7022, a bipartisan bill with Representatives John Katko (NY-24), Mark Takano (CA-41), and Mike Coffman (CO-6) that will increase transparency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program which provides eligible veterans with supportive services.
Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced the Rent Relief Act to help Americans struggling to afford housing each month. The bill would provide a refundable tax credit to renters who paid more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent, including utilities, the previous year. The bill is the House companion to the bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
WASHINGTON, D.C. (KGTV) – San Diego Congressman Scott Peters introduced legislation Tuesday to provide a tax credit to renters who paid more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent and utilities the previous year.
The Rent Relief Act is the House companion to a Senate bill introduced by Senator Kamala Harris.
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The federal housing program known as the Housing Choice Voucher or Section 8 program provides families with a subsidy to pay their rent. In an effort to expand housing choices and keep landlords from discriminating, the San Diego City Council approved an ordinance that prohibits landlords from refusing to consider rental applications from a tenant applicant who receives a Section 8 voucher or some type of rental assistance.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded a $7.94 million grant to the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH) to help identify homeless youth in San Diego and connect them to housing services.
San Diego is eager to see an overhaul to the federal formula that doles out money to cities to combat homelessness – the current setup gives more money to cities that have smaller homeless populations than San Diego. But at least three cities that benefit from the current arrangement – Chicago, New York and Philadelphia – don’t want it to change, and are vigorously opposing the plans, saying the effort would cost them millions of dollars, federal records show.
A formula that has resulted in San Diego County receiving less federal money for homeless services than cities with fewer homeless people is being revised.
“I think it’s great news,” said Regional Task Force on the Homeless Executive Director Dolores Diaz, who was reached Monday in Washington, D.C., at the annual National Conference on ending Homelessness. “Over time, it’s going to make a huge difference to our community.”