In December 2022, a survey found that 582,462 people in the United States were experiencing homelessness. This survey showed an increase in 2,000 individuals since the survey was last conducted in 2020. Although the homeless rate remains steady at .18 percent, there is a concern about what caused the increase of 2,000 homeless individuals. Some speculate it resulted from COVID-19, while others believe it is because of inflation and the high cost of living. Regardless of the root cause, states are continuing to address this problem and offering more housing and employment opportunities for the homeless community.
Arizona Bill Increases Public Access for Homeless Persons
On February 2, 2023, SB1585 was introduced by Arizona lawmakers. The bill states that privileges, rights, or access to public services may not be denied because the person is homeless. The bill also establishes a statewide program that educates citizens on access to social services, legal assistance for housing issues, rental assistance, and legal aid to tenants with a criminal record. The bill also provides affordable housing opportunities to homeless persons, provides property owners the resources to offer affordable housing to homeless individuals, and a statewide development program and community outreach for homeless individuals to secure stable housing and job placement.
New York Bill Addresses Issues with Student Homelessness
On February 9, 2023, A04029 was introduced by Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (D). It was referred to the Committee on Higher Education. The bill specifically addresses issues of student homelessness and establishes liaison officers and regional and campus contacts to assist homeless students in finding housing. The bill also prioritizes homeless students for housing and waives certain fees for homeless students. The legislation further would establish a program designed to assist in attendance and success in college for homeless students.
Utah Bill Provides Weather Alerts for Those Experiencing Homelessness
On February 17, 2023, HB0499 was introduced to the Utah House by Steve Eliason (R) and Jacob Anderegg (R). The bill requires that weather alerts be sent out to homeless persons so that they can take shelter in the event of a weather emergency. The bill also reallocates funds from the Homeless Shelter Cities Mitigation Restricted Account to increase the provision of services for homeless individuals.
Washington Bill Calls For Five-Year Homeless Housing Strategic Plan
On January 10, 2023, SB5224, sponsored by Jeff Wilson (R), Mike Padden (R), and Nikki Torres (R), was referred to the Washington Committee on Housing. This bill was written regarding the performance requirements of homelessness service providers. The bill encourages Washington communities to maximize public financial investments to address homelessness. The bill also calls for a five-year homeless housing strategic plan, which outlines goals and initiatives to increase state housing and the number of homeless shelters in Washington State.
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