It was a busy day for the Burbank Congressman as he combined with others to introduce two news bills to help young children and renters.
Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), joined by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), and Greg Landsman (D-Ohio), introduced the Head Start Expansion and Improvement Act, comprehensive, forward-thinking legislation that would make tremendous investments in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Unfortunately, Head Start programs are dramatically under funded. Schiff’s legislation would invest billions of dollars in Head Start programs, infrastructure, and workforce in order to provide critical, high-quality education, health, and social services to young children and families from low-income households.
“As a parent, I know just how critical a quality education and affordable child care is for working families. There’s no question that families across the country are facing a child care crisis brought on by high costs of care and low pay for child care providers. My legislation takes bold steps to tackle workforce challenges and increase investments in Head Start and Early Start programs that are key to the success of children and families,” said Rep. Schiff.
Head Start and Early Head Start programs serve as pillars of our communities, but are largely under-resourced, outdated, and understaffed. Earlier this year, the National Head Start Association found that nearly twenty percent of all Head Start and Early Head Start staff positions were vacant. The top reason cited for these vacancies continues to be low compensation. Further, a report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that over 70 percent of surveyed Head Start facilities are in need of renovations. Without intervention, the worsening workforce and infrastructure crises could jeopardize Head Start programs across the country.
Specifically, the Head Start Expansion and Improvement Act would –
- Expand eligibility to include families with children 5 years old and younger who are:
- Eligible for assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- At or below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
- Triple annual funding levels to $36 billion for Fiscal Years 2025-2030.
- Establish a grant program providing $1 billion in annual funding to renovate, expand, and acquire program facilities
- Provide student loan forgiveness for Head Start and Early Head Start child care workers.
- Establish a grant program to increase salaries for Head Start and Early Head Start workers.
You can find the full bill text here.
He also introduced the Affordable Housing Stability During Shutdowns Act, which would exempt several federal rental assistance programs from the impact of a government shutdown.
The Affordable Housing Stability During Shutdowns Act would safeguard critical housing assistance for the most vulnerable such as low-income Americans, seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.
“Californians should not bear the consequences of a Republican Congress that cannot govern,” said Rep. Schiff. “I’m introducing the Affordable Housing Stability During Shutdowns Act to protect workers and families by ensuring that funding for rental assistance programs is available during a government shutdown. The housing crisis is bad enough without a government shutdown making it so much worse.”
The Affordable Housing Stability During Shutdowns Act would ensure funding will be made available for several rental assistance programs in the event of a government shutdown. These programs include:
- Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), including the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 8, Project-Based Vouchers, and other rental assistance payments, impacting over 2 million people in low-income households. Two-thirds of PBRA heads of households are seniors and disabled adults, and the average household income is just over $13,000.
- HUD’s Supportive Housing for the Elderly program, which provides affordable housing to over 400,000 low-income older adults.
- HUD’s Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program, which offers rental assistance and supportive services for 1.1 million households consisting of adults with long-term disabilities.
- Rental Assistance through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) program, which currently helps nearly 300,000 eligible tenants nationwide living in RD-financed multifamily housing afford to pay their rent.
During the historic government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018, the vast majority of the HUD employees were furloughed, and departmental operations were reduced to minimal activity. In addition, nearly all of the USDA’s Rural Development staff administering housing programs were also furloughed, threatening the agency’s rural rental housing activities and having a significant impact on renters in rural housing programs.
You can find the full bill text here.