U.S. House Approves Bill that Undermines Title V of the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act
Today the House passed H.R. 1734, the Civilian Property Realignment Act. The legislation was loosely based on the Obama Administration proposal to identify federal properties that could be sold to help reduce the deficit. The legislation passed in the House calls for the creation of a nine-member commission to achieve this end, but it also repeals an important provision in current law that gives homeless service providers a right of first refusal to obtain these properties at no cost.
H.R. 1743 requires this commission to identify properties and make sale recommendations to the administration. The president would then approve or disapprove these sales then Congress would have to pass a resolution approving of the recommendations before they take effect. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), the sponsor of the legislation stated that both parties reached an agreement on this provision in the bill that would allow for review of properties suitable for homeless providers, but House Democrats homeless advocate organizations widely expressed dissatisfaction with the amendment’s review process. Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) introduced a similar bill, S. 1503 , but it has yet to move forward in the Senate committee process.
To read the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty’s statement on the bill’s passage, click here.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) notes that under current law, the GSA and the Department of Health and Human Services(HHS) make suitable surplus properties available to private nonprofit organizations, units of local government, and States for use as facilities to assist the homeless. These properties are leased, deeded, or made available on an interim basis at no cost to approved homeless assistance providers. (To read more on this process, click the following link for the HHS Program Support Center’s notes: http://www.psc.gov/administrative/federalprop/titlev.html).
The Obama Administration also weighed in on the legislation through a Statement of Administration Policy(SAP) on issued yesterday. The administration expressed concern regarding the legislation’s exemption for several large categories of property that the commission could not propose for sale and its limits on the ability to review the environmental impact of property sales. Further, the administration took issue with the bill’s provision to require congressional approval of the commission’s recommendations. To read the full SAP, click here.