Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) introduced a resolution calling on Congress to invest in ending the homelessness crisis by 2025.
The resolution, called the Unhoused Bill of Rights, demands that the federal government declare homelessness a public health emergency and make significant investments in creating more affordable housing and supportive services for unhoused people.
It is the first such federal resolution and is largely symbolic, meant to call attention to the need for more federal resources to address the severe housing crisis nationwide.
Spearheaded by Bush — who was a Black Lives Matter activist in Ferguson, Missouri, and who made history last year as the first Black woman Missouri sent to Congress — the resolution is co-sponsored by progressive colleagues including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and others.
“The unhoused crisis in our country is a public health emergency, and a moral and policy failure at every level of our government,” Bush said in a statement. Bush herself has experienced homelessness, having lived in her car with her two young children even as she worked full time.
“I know the daily trauma and stress that comes with the perpetual instability of not having a safe place to live,” the lawmaker said, calling on Congress to “make the desperately needed investments to guarantee housing, health care and a robust social safety net for our unhoused neighbors.”
There were about 580,000 people experiencing homelessness across the U.S. on a given night in 2020, per a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That marked the fourth year in a row that the number of people who were unhoused increased.
Black, Latinx and Indigenous people are “considerably overrepresented” among the homeless population, according to HUD, with Black people making up nearly 40% of people experiencing homelessness while only representing 13% of the total U.S. population.
Meanwhile, the federal eviction moratorium — put in place last fall to protect renters from being evicted from their homes in the middle of a pandemic — is set to expire in just three days.
Eviction, like homelessness, disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx people.
Bush, Pressley and Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) led a group of lawmakers who sent a letter last month to President Joe Biden and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging an extension of the moratorium.
“This pandemic is not behind us, and our federal housing policies should reflect that stark reality,” the lawmakers said in a statement Wednesday. “The impending eviction crisis is entirely preventable and we must do everything in our power to keep people safely in their homes.”
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