Congressman Sherman’s Bill to Address the National Homelessness Crisis Passes the House
Washington, D.C. – The House unanimously passed H.R. 4302, the Homeless Assistance Act of 2019. A senior member on the Financial Services Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Congressman Brad Sherman sponsored this bill to help address the homelessness crisis in the San Fernando Valley, as well as many other communities around the country. The bill empowers local Public Housing Authorities or “PHAs” to share data, when appropriate, with other local government agencies and non-profits engaged in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care Program.
HUD's Continuum of Care, and the community organizations that participate in the program, are on the front lines of working to tackle homelessness. One of the challenges these organizations face is effectively coordinating with other local entities that are working together to provide the necessary housing and services that cater to the unique needs of each individual and family.
Currently, local PHAs are limited by the Federal Privacy Act in the information they can share with other local government entities and non-profits participating in the Continuum of Care. This can serve as an unnecessary barrier that reduces the level of coordination between entities and requires individuals to resubmit the same information and paperwork to various entities.
“My bill would seek to resolve this issue by making a tailored exemption to the Federal Privacy Act to allow PHAs to share some of their client data with other local Continuum of Care participants to better coordinate assistance and get people the services they need,” Sherman said. “We have already seen this type of data sharing have a major impact.”
According to research by Pew Charitable Trust, this sort of data sharing within the Continuum of Care contributed to Virginia becoming the first state to "functionally" end veteran homelessness in 2015. This bill also ensures that individuals’ and families’ privacy remains protected by preventing the inappropriate sharing of personally identifiable data.
 Pew Charitable Trust. Data Sharing Helps Reduce Number of Homeless Veterans. April 3, 2017. Available at: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2017/04/data-sharing-helps-reduce-number-of-homeless-veterans