Tester Slams Federal Agency as Rates of Homelessness Rise

Senator Pushes for Affordable Housing Resources for Montana Families and Veterans

(U.S. Senate)—Following a new report that shows homelessness in Montana is on the rise, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is demanding that the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ensure families have roofs over their heads as winter hits.

Tester is pushing HUD Secretary Ben Carson to work with Congress and address the rising rate of homelessness in Montana. In a letter to Carson, Tester criticizes the Department’s attempt to eliminate homeless initiatives and pushes for more affordable housing resources for Montana families, seniors, and veterans.

“Affordable housing provides economic security for families, empowering students to perform better in school and helping parents keep their jobs,” wrote Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “At a time when our economy is recovering, it is very troubling to see a rising number of Montanans with no safe or warm place to call home.”

HUD released a report last week showing homelessness in Montana increased by nearly eight percent over the past year. This is the first time since 2010 that homelessness is on the rise across the nation.

Tester specifically expressed concern that homelessness among veterans in Montana grew by 24 percent over the last year.

“Congress and the Administration must do everything we can to ensure that veterans facing homelessness have the resources they need to get back on their feet,”
Tester added.

Tester pressed Carson to increase resources for affordable housing initiatives and boost opportunities for homeless veterans in next year’s federal budget.

The Trump Administration proposed cutting more than 13 percent from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Important housing initiatives such as the Interagency Council on Homelessness, Community Development Block Grants, the HOME Program, Choice Neighborhoods, and the Self-Help Homeownership Program would have all been eliminated under this budget.

Tester used his position on the Appropriations Committee to reverse the Trump Administration’s proposed budget cuts and support an appropriations bill that increases investments in critical housing initiatives. That appropriations bill has yet to receive a vote on the Senate floor.

Tester met with Carson in Montana in August to highlight the need for more affordable housing.

Tester’s letter to Carson is available HERE.