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March 23, 2020

Reps. Pressley & Tlaib Introduce Legislation to Protect Individuals Experiencing Homelessness During COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) introduced the Public Health Emergency Shelter Act of 2020, legislation to provide critical funding to states and local governments responding to the needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis.

In January, Congresswoman Pressley, along with colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, launched the People’s Housing Platform—a groundbreaking, progressive housing framework that declares housing as a fundamental human right and underscores progressive’s commitment to tackle the affordable housing crisis. The Public Health Emergency Shelter Act builds on the People’s Housing Platform by specifically calling for emergency grants to protect families and individuals experiencing homelessness and the frontline service providers who work with people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Housing is a critical determinant of public health, and that has never been more true than during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “We have a moral obligation to protect the health and safety of all people, particularly our most vulnerable. By investing $15.5 billion in emergency grants to state and local governments, the Public Health Emergency Shelter Act will ensure that frontline workers have the resources and support they need to protect the health and safety of the nearly 500,000 people across this country experiencing homelessness. In these unprecedented times, this bill boldly affirms that poverty is not a character flaw, and nobody deserves less because they can’t afford more.”

“Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic must be comprehensive and, as such, it must center those most vulnerable among us,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “Families and individuals dealing with homelessness are more vulnerable to this disease at no fault of their own and need access to safe shelter and necessary medical care. I’m grateful to be joining Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley in prioritizing resources for those experiencing homelessness and those working to serve them.”

Across the United States, more than 500,000 people are experiencing homelessness. Many people experiencing homelessness, including more than 50,000 families with children, often reside in environments that can accelerate the spread of COVID-19 among those experiencing homelessness as well as frontline healthcare workers and human services workers.

Congresswoman Pressley is committed to protecting the right to safe and affordable housing for all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, she joined colleagues in introducing the Housing is a Human Right Act, which would authorize more than $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years to expand crucial housing infrastructure and reduce homelessness. She also sent letters to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and several of the largest trade associations for landlords urging a moratorium on evictions during this public health emergency.



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