The problem of homelessness has plagued the United States since before the 1960s, yet legislation to assist homeless individuals and families has only been introduced since the late 1980s. Since then, homelessness legislation has sought to help solve the problems that lead to homelessness rather than simply providing a temporary solution. From providing better health care and wages to more affordable housing, homelessness legislation has proven to be effective for many homeless individuals in the United States.
Although homelessness has long been an issue in the United States, the first legislation to address the issue of homelessness wasn't introduced until 1986. The McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act provides funding for shelters that accommodate homeless individuals. In addition to housing homeless individuals, this legislation also provides free transportation to school for homeless children regardless of its location. The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 has often been cited as a contributing factor to homelessness, requiring legislation to rectify the problem.
The purpose of homelessness legislation is to help eradicate homelessness and to lessen the burdens that lead to homelessness. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act, which was passed in 2001, prevents schools from separating homeless children from non-homeless children. In addition, one of the main goals of the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act was to prevent schools from prohibiting students from registering based on their inability to provide an address.
A combination of homelessness legislation and coalitions to fight homelessness has had the effect of providing more affordable housing to homeless individuals and families. The National Housing Trust Fund has been proposed to provide funding for homeless individuals to assist them in paying for housing. In addition to providing affordable housing, homelessness legislation seeks to provide health care for those with substance abuse problems and mental illness. A lack of affordable housing and health care are two of the major causes of homelessness, thus legislation seeks to eliminate these obstacles.
Homelessness legislation seeks to solve three basic problems: affordable housing, living wage and mental illness. Although there isn't much legislation to deal with the problem of homelessness, the legislation and initiatives that exist aim to fix these problems by building low-income housing that's affordable for poverty-stricken individuals and families. Programs such as Volunteers of America provide transitional as well as permanent housing for homeless families. In addition, many cities have sought to pass minimum wage laws that are higher than the federal minimum wage to combat the problem of wages that don't allow families and individuals to sustain housing.
The Chronic Homelessness Initiative created by President George W. Bush seeks to end chronic homelessness by the year 2012. To aid in achieving this goal, the president teamed up with the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create a program that helps homeless individuals receive housing and employment in several communities. The initiative allocated £8.8 million between the DOL and HUD to eliminate chronic homelessness by 2012.
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