Portman, Brown, King Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Ensure Students Aren’t Forced to Choose Between Housing and Education

March 13, 2019 | Press Releases

Bipartisan Legislation Would Update Current Rules that Prevent Students Who Are Homeless, or Who Experienced Homelessness, from Securing Affordable Housing While Pursuing Education 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Housing for Homeless Students Act, that would update current law to ensure students, including veterans, who have experienced homelessness or are currently homeless, can access affordable housing while pursuing their education. The legislation would also benefit youth who age out of foster care who experience higher rates of homelessness and unemployment. Right now, individuals pursuing full-time education are not eligible for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and can lose access to scholarships and grants if they switch to part-time education in order to retain access to affordable housing. 

“It is in all of our interests to help homeless kids and veterans find housing,” said Senator Portman. “Students shouldn’t have to choose between stable housing and going to school full-time. By giving low-income students access to affordable housing while they attend school, we can help to ensure that they are able to graduate, pursue their dreams, and achieve their God-given potential.” 

“Students and veterans who have experienced homelessness shouldn’t be forced to choose between pursuing an education and access to affordable housing,” said Senator Brown. “I’m proud to work with Sens. Portman and King on the Housing for Homeless Students Act to provide clarity to current law and ensure the housing tax credit works for students investing in their futures.” 

“It should go without saying – homeless youth and veterans need a roof over their head while they pursue an education so they can get on track and find a path to success,” Senator King said. “These men and women are working to improve their lives and invest in their future, and they should not be faced with impossible decisions like choosing between furthering their studies or having a place to sleep at night. The Housing for Homeless Students Act is a necessary step forward to ensuring homeless youth and veterans have equal opportunity to grow, learn, and succeed.” 

“Young adults should not have to choose between stable housing and pursuing their education. Both are necessary for long-term success. This exception to the LIHTC rule will allow them to do both. We must work together to remove this barrier to their success,” said Paul Haffner, President & CEO Lighthouse Youth and Family Services. 

The LIHTC Program provides tax incentives to developers to build or rehabilitate affordable housing units. Currently, the program does not allow tenants enrolled in the program to be full-time students. If students pursue a part-time education, they risk losing out on scholarships and grants available to full-time students only. The original intent of the rule was to prevent LIHTC funding from being used to construct student housing for students who have temporarily low-incomes at the expense of low-income families with long-term needs. However, current law provides no exception for homeless or formerly-homeless students. 

The Senators’ bill would update current law to create an exemption for students if they’ve experienced homelessness within the last seven years. The bill will also include homeless or formerly homeless veterans pursuing full-time education. 

This legislation has been endorsed by: National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, Affordable Housing Tax Coalition, Children’s Home Society of America, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, and Lighthouse Youth and Family Services.