Mc-Kinney Vento- The First Federal Legislative Response to Homelessness


Mc-Kinney Vento- The First Federal Legislative Response to Homelessness image


To this day the Act remains the only major federal legislation to be passed in response to widespread homelessness. 

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act was the first and to this day remains the only major federal legislation to be passed in response to widespread homelessness in the 1980’s. Before this time, homelessness was considered a local problem with no targeted response from the federal government. Initially called the Homeless Persons' Survival Act, it included emergency relief provisions for shelter, food, mobile health care, and transitional housing for those in need and passed with a large bipartisan majority in both the house and congress.

After the death of its chief Republican sponsor, Representative Stewart B. McKinney of Connecticut, the act was renamed the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. On October 30, 2000 President Clinton renamed the legislation the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act after the death of Representative Bruce Vento, a leading supporter of the act since its original passage in 1987. Bipartisan support has always been a hallmark of this program, which the Congressional Budget Office has rated as HUD’s most effective program.

Who was Stewart Brett McKinney?
McKinney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1970. He represented his home state of Connecticut in Congress for nine terms. Although he was the wealthiest congressmen during his terms in office, McKinney was regarded by his peers as a fighter for the causes of the forgotten. An independent-minded, liberal Republican, McKinney worked tirelessly for urban aid and social welfare programs. McKinney was most outspoken of the plight of the homeless – especially those with mental illness, left on the street. The Homeless Assistance Act was his signature legislation.

Who was Bruce F. Vento?
Elected to the Minnesota State Legislature in 1970, Vento served three consecutive terms. In 1977, he was elected by the Fourth District for the state of Minnesota to the U.S. House of Representatives. In June of 2000, Vento received special recognition from President Clinton for his years of work on behalf of America’s homeless population. Bruce F. Vento worked alongside Stewart B. McKinney and was co-author of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, which created federal funding for support services, transitional housing, and emergency shelter grants for the nation’s homeless.

Why is McKinney -Vento important to supportive housing?
HUD’s McKinney-Vento provided a stable form of funding for building, operating and providing supportive services in supportive housing. Funding is distributed by formula to jurisdictions for the ESG program, and competitively for the Continuum of Care (CoC) program.

Funding History of McKinney -Vento
Congress authorized just over $1 billion in expenditures for McKinney Act programs for 1987 and 1988; however, a total $712 million was appropriated for those years. In the most recent HUD budget (FY18) $2.5 billion dollars were allocated for McKinney Vento program.

Almost 10% of this funding comes to the 24 CoCs in NYS annually.

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