Washington, D.C.— U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY), a senior Member of the House Financial Services Committee, unveiled legislation to reform the failed Housing First policy at a press conference at the House Triangle on Thursday.  The Housing Promotes Livelihood and Ultimate Success (Housing PLUS) Act is intended to end the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) exclusive reliance on the so-called “Housing First” methodology, which recent U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness data demonstrates is a failed experiment. 

Specifically, the bill would prohibit the HUD Secretary from prohibiting, limiting or otherwise restricting award of Continuum of Care (CoC) funds to providers because they require wraparound services such as addiction treatment or job counseling, or because they are faith-based organizations.  The bill also directs the HUD Secretary to allocate no less than 30% of CoC funding to recipients that provide, or facilitate access to, wraparound services.

“Housing First prevents providers who require wraparound services from receiving federal funds to curb homelessness in our communities,” said Congressman Barr.  “These wraparound services are oftentimes necessary to ensuring a person can safely and fully attain permanent housing on their own. We need to abandon HUD’s exclusive reliance on Housing First in favor of an all-hands-on deck approach to end homelessness in the United States.  The Housing PLUS Act will ensure that HUD grant funding is reaching providers who are helping people transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency, without unneeded restrictions.”

“In my district, Austin, Texas has experienced the homelessness crisis get out of hand due to the failed liberal policies. Austin, like so many cities across the country, highlights the failure of big government solutions to fix local problems. We need to move on from the one-sized fits all Housing First policy that was an abject failure and allow greater flexibility for communities to find localized solutions that can finally deliver change,” said U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25).  “I am proud to work alongside my colleagues and organizations who are dedicated to lifting people up and ending the cycle of government reliance.”

"I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this bill.  Frankly, Republicans need to do a better job talking about the issues that directly affect people in our communities.  As a Christian, I believe in the approach of civil society and of human beings helping each other. I don't believe in top-down approaches that limit the creativity and the ability of people, Texans, to be able to help fellow Texans,” said Congressman Chip Roy (TX-21).

“Congressman Barr realizes what Congress has been doing regarding homelessness has not been working, and his Housing PLUS Act would start to address the issues by encouraging wraparound services to address the true root causes of homelessness. I thank Congressman Barr for his leadership on this critical issue,” said Dr. Robert Marbut, former Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

"Victims of domestic violence addiction and mental illness, first and foremost, need to heal from the trauma they have experienced,” said Michele Steeb, Senior Fellow Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) who oversees TPPF’s initiative to transform United States’ and Texas’ homelessness policy.  “Turning a blind eye to their conditions by instead placing them in a home without support to address their underlying needs is the antithesis of compassion. It is no surprise that this approach has seismically failed the homeless and the communities in which they reside."  

In the five years after 2014 when the U.S. adopted Housing First as its exclusive solution to combatting homelessness, unsheltered homeless increased more than 20%, despite substantial increases in federal funding to fight homelessness.  This sharp increase came after a decline in homelessness of roughly 31% between 2007 and 2014.