June 10, 2020

Manchin Bill To Help Families, Children, And Youth Experiencing Homelessness Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced S. 3923, the Emergency Family Stabilization Act. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this legislation creates a new emergency funding stream overseen by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide flexible funding for community-based organizations to meet the unique needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. Specifically, the bill aims to provide emergency funding to underserved populations and areas, including in rural communities, who continue to see long-term repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our families, children, and youth currently experiencing homelessness are awful, and we are only beginning to see the consequences of this crisis on American families and children. In West Virginia, over 10,500 students have been identified as homeless, but we know that number is likely much higher,” Senator Manchin said. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to expand funding to address children and youth homelessness and to specifically help those affected by this global healthcare crisis. No child should go to bed without a roof over their head and a warm place to sleep. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this commonsense, compassionate legislation to help our friends and neighbors in need.”

“Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, in our long history of work with youth and children experiencing homelessness, and work on preventing, and supporting victims of sex trafficking, is seeing the daily additional toll the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on these vulnerable youth, and strongly encourage the passing of this legislation,” said Steve Tuck, CEO of the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.

“The WV Primary Care Association applauds our legislative leadership in supporting policy that protects and provides access to much needed social services, including housing and health care for our state’s residents. Community Health Centers are community-based and patient-centered organizations that provide access to comprehensive, integrated primary care to everyone – adults, children, homeless, uninsured, Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance. Community Health Centers provide many services, such as primary care, oral health, behavioral health, substance-use disorder services (including MAT), school-based health services, and pharmacy services as 340B covered entities. In WV, 25% of our state’s population accesses health care services at a Community Health Center – nearly 470,000 patients, serving all counties. Community Health Centers work with their patients and communities to identify barriers to care and wellness, such as homelessness and unsafe housing, and provide linkages to social support services.  With this legislation, those community efforts can be strengthened, and we look forward to working with other organizations in providing services to all Mountaineers,” said Sherri Ferrell, CEO of the West Virginia Primary Care Association.

This legislation follows a letter sent in May 2020 by Senators Manchin, Murkowski, Sullivan, and Sinema, urging Senate leadership to include funding in any future COVID-19 relief efforts to help meet the unique and complex needs of youth, families and children experiencing homelessness through the programs and systems that are best positioned to help them immediately, and to ensure their long-term stability.

Fact sheet on the Emergency Family Stabilization Act can be found here.

Eligible uses of funds include:

  • Health and safety needs, including PPE, food, hygiene supplies, and mental health services
  • Housing-related needs, such as eviction prevention, utility payments, motel stays, and housing placement assistance
  • Transportation assistance
  • Emergency child care
  • Communications and connectivity needs
  • Education, training, and employment-related needs
  • The particular needs of pregnant women and children birth to age five
  • Staffing for outreach and case management
  • Services and supports to meet the particular needs of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or trafficking
  • Assistance in accessing Economic Stimulus Payments, unemployment compensation, and other benefits provided by federal, state and local governments
  • The particular needs of unaccompanied homeless youth and young families

Timeline of Senator Manchin’s work to address homelessness can be found here.

Section by section analysis of the Emergency Family Stabilization Act can be found here.

Bill text can be found here.

This legislation is supported by the following West Virginia organizations: Child Protect, Child & Youth Advocacy Center, Florence Crittenton Services, Inc., Harmony House CAC, Harrison County CAC, Just for Kids, Logan-Mingo CAC, Monongalia County CAC, Randolph-Tucker CAC, REACHH CAC, Safe Haven CAC, Sarah's House, Team for West Virginia Children, The Lighthouse CAC, Think Kids, Tri-County CAC, The Children's Listening Place, Women & Children's Hospital CAC, National Association for Social Workers - West Virginia Chapter, West Virginia  Child Advocacy Network, West Virginia Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association, West Virginia Child Care Association, West Virginia Primary Care Association, West Virginia Infant/Toddler Mental Health Association, West Virginia Parent Training and Information, Inc., West Virginia Children's Home Society, WV Coalition to End Homelessness, and the West Virginia Head Start Association.