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Markey, Kaine, Padilla Call for Biden Admin. to Take on Intersecting Crises of Housing Insecurity, Mental Health, and Substance Use Disorder

More than half a million Americans experienced homelessness in 2022, with nearly one in five struggling with chronic substance use

Letter Text (PDF)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, along with Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), today called for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement a pilot program to provide mental health, substance use, and other supportive services for people experiencing homelessness, at risk of becoming homeless, or living in HUD-assisted housing. In December 2022, Congress directed federal funding from SAMHSA’s Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program to establish this pilot program. However, the program has yet to be implemented. Coordinating health and housing support is an effective method to help people get, and keep, their housing and improve health outcomes.

“Although there are many factors behind housing insecurity, behavioral health challenges such as serious mental illness or substance use disorder can be both a cause and consequence,” the senators wrote in their letter. “Barriers to health care leave people untreated, sick, unable to work, and at risk of homelessness. In turn, homelessness makes it harder to get care and creates stressors that worsen behavioral health or may result in the development of substance use disorder. Seamless coordination of health care and housing is essential to prevent housing insecurity and treat behavioral health conditions.”

The senators continued, “It is essential that we strengthen services to ensure that every person experiencing homelessness can get the services they need, and this pilot between HUD and SAMHSA can help in that effort.”

The senators requested answers to the following questions from the Biden administration by October 1, 2023:

  1. What progress has been made to date to establish a HUD/SAMHSA supportive housing pilot through the PATH program?
  2. What is the anticipated launch date for the pilot?
  3. What are the barriers or challenges to establishing and carrying out the pilot?
  4. How do HUD and SAMHSA currently formally collaborate on programs to pair housing and health-related wraparound services?
  5. How many interagency working groups between HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services exist? Of those, how many are statutorily mandated?