CCUSA president and CEO offers Congressional testimony on homelessness
Housing America: Addressing Challenges in Serving People Experiencing Homelessness
Sister Donna Markham OP, Ph.D. President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA
Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony regarding, “Housing America: Addressing Challenges in Serving People Experiencing Homelessness,” on behalf of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), a national organization representing more than 167 diocesan Catholic Charities member agencies, which operate 3,500 service locations across the country.
Last year, the CCUSA network provided help and created hope for over 15 million people. Many of the people coming to Catholic Charities agencies are homeless, in search of shelter, in need of basic services, including rental assistance, or looking for an affordable place to live. In 2020, the Catholic Charities network helped almost 180,000 people access stable and affordable housing, provided homeless-related services to over 403,000 individuals, and operated over 37,000 units of permanent housing.
Catholic Charities operates in all areas of the housing continuum which includes housing with project-based subsidies for seniors and families, shelter and transitional housing, homelessness prevention, permanent supportive housing for formerly chronic homeless persons, housing first, and rapid rehousing. Catholic Charities also provides critical, housing-related support services such as case management, social services, basic needs and emergency utility assistance. Additionally, member agencies provide housing counseling services, such as budget counseling, that help people remain housed.
As you well know, homelessness and the lack of affordable housing were major issues for millions of low-income and marginalized households before the pandemic. “On a single night in January 2020, 580,466 people – about 18 of every 10,000 people in the United States – experienced homelessness across the United States. This represents a 2.2 percent increase from 2019.” Children, seniors, people with disabilities, working families, and even veterans were already struggling to pay their rent and at risk of losing their housing. Also, decades of systemic, unfair housing policies have blocked minorities, especially Black, Hispanic and Native-American households, from building wealth and obtaining economic security. The result is significant racial disparities in housing and homelessness.
Homelessness continues to impact our country and without swift action from the federal government to support stable housing initiatives, more people will suffer the same fate. To effectively reduce homelessness, the nation must first prevent people from becoming homeless. Therefore, we would like to share with you challenges to serving people experiencing homelessness as identified from frontline workers: