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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sanctuary Cities and Impact on Homelessness

For John, BLUFThat darn President Trump keeps trying to fulfill campaign promises.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I am so late with this.  A month ago I asked HUD (the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Affairs the following, and they responded, promptly.

Question:  Has the Department examined the impact on homelessness programs of the new Administration’s proposal to limit Federal funds for Sanctuary Cities?

HUD’s response:  HUD’s targeted homeless programs (the Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Programs) are authorized by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which outlines how funds appropriated for these programs must be allocated.   In the case of the ESG program, the allocation process is based on an objective funding formula.   In the case of the CoC Program, the allocation process is an annual national competition.   In order to limit or change these processes to restrict certain areas from receiving funds, Congress would have to either change the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act statute, or provide specific direction/language in our appropriation or through another law.   At this time we have not received any indication that this move is underway for the homeless programs.   In fact, HUD’s homeless programs have received broad bi-partisan support over many years, in part due to the Department’s efforts to ensure that these funds are spent as efficiently and effectively as possible in order to best serve people experiencing homelessness across the country.

This is a good response, as it tells us what the law is.  Mr Trump, and Dr Carson, if they want to change our approach to homelessness, have some wiggle room within the current laws, but may have to ask the US Congress for authority to go in other directions.

With regard to withholding funds from Communities that call themselves "Sanctuary Cities" it is a case of wait and see.  There is no doubt that, in the past, the Federal Government has used the power of the purse to coerce States and local communities to do its bidding by withholding money.  Look at how long we had a 55 mph speed limit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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