Mike Levin on Homelessness & Affordable Housing

Question #5 to Mike Levin, asked by Farrah Parker (’28) on behalf of Grade 7.

“What can you do to reduce the level of homelessness in the 49th District and the nationwide shortage of affordable housing?”

Every city is a little bit different in their approach to housing and their approach to homelessness, so what works for Carlsbad won’t necessarily work for Oceanside or for Encinitas or Solana Beach, so I try to work with our local leaders to figure out what their priorities are with regard to housing and homelessness and then provide those resources to whatever extent I can. For example, in Oceanside, they just got $2.25 million for a new, they call it a navigation center–it’s basically a 50-bed shelter that’s going to expand to 100 beds to try to get people off the streets into that shelter for 30 days, hopefully to get them permanent, supportive housing or at least more temporary housing, so that’s one thing. The other is trying to work with veterans, trying to make sure, because I sit on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and I’ve chaired the sub-committee that’s responsible for veterans’ housing and for veterans’ homelessness, making sure that our veterans have the housing that they need. And so what we’ve done is we’ve expanded eligibility for those programs: Housing and Urban Development and VA. It’s called the HUD-VASH voucher: HUD VA Supportive Housing voucher. We’ve expanded the availability of those vouchers to a lot more people in our community, and the reality is what we saw before the pandemic is the rate of veteran homelessness in our community went down pretty significantly. With the pandemic, it went back up, and now it’s starting to come back down again. What alarms me most is that the rate of women veteran homelessness is going up, and so I’m trying to work with my colleagues specifically to address women veteran homelessness because we’ve got to make sure that any veteran that serves our country has a place to live. So, between those two, we’re also fighting for more affordable housing, by the way. We’ve proposed legislation that would have made the biggest investment in affordable housing at the federal level in the history of the United States, but we couldn’t get that bill across the line in the Senate. I think you all know how this works: you gotta pass it in the House and the Senate for it to get to the president’s desk for signature, then you gotta have the president actually sign the bill, and with the housing piece, we passed it in the House, a hundred billion dollar investment for affordable housing, we sent it to the Senate and they wouldn’t pass it in the Senate. They wouldn’t do anything to alter their rules, called the filibuster rule–y’all heard about the filibuster rule? So, the filibuster rule says you need 60 votes rather than 50 in the Senate, and we could have passed, I think, this housing provision, had we only needed 50 in the Senate. That’s why it’s so important that we try to hold the Senate, and maybe elect one or two more, because if we could just elect one or two more they might be willing to provide some flexibility on the filibuster rule.

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