Burr Introduces Bill to End Long-Term Homelessness

Bipartisan legislation establishes grant program to help end chronic homelessness

Today U.S. Senator Richard Burr introduced the Services for Ending Long-Term Homelessness Act, legislation that would strengthen permanent supportive housing programs by combining housing with support services, such as mental health, substance use disorder treatment and recovery, and employment opportunities for chronically homelessness individuals and families. This bill establishes a grant program through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help end chronic homelessness. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is the lead co-sponsor of the legislation.

"We have the opportunity to help solve the issue of chronic homelessness by providing permanent supportive housing and supportive services," Burr said. "These services can help reduce the number of visits to emergency rooms, shelters, and hospitals, which reduces costs and, more importantly, provide a road to recovery and self-sufficiency for these members of our community."

Over a half a million Americans do not have a place to call home each night, and two to three million people find themselves homeless at some point during the year. The latest estimates indicate that there are 150,000 chronically homeless individuals nationwide. Chronically homeless individuals use a disproportionate amount of emergency resources compared to the rest of the population. However, studies show that supportive housing and supportive services for mental health, substance abuse treatment, and employment opportunities can curb the need for emergency assistance.

Burr first introduced the Services for Ending Long-Term Homelessness Act when he served in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the Senate, he also championed the Services to Prevent Veterans Homelessness Act to provide services to help keep low-income veterans, who are at-risk of becoming homeless, in permanent housing. This legislation was signed into law last year.