Padilla Introduces Legislation to Address Homelessness and Substance Abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to help tackle our nation’s homelessness and growing substance abuse crises. The Coordinating Substance Use and Homelessness Care Act of 2022 would create a grant program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support culturally competent, trauma-informed substance use disorder and homelessness services. Representative Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.-04) previously introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives.

“With over half a million people in our country experiencing homelessness, and about 1 in 5 of them having substance abuse or mental health disorders, we must work to better coordinate resources for this vulnerable population,” said Senator Padilla. “This bill is about removing barriers and streamlining health and housing services to more effectively address the homelessness and growing substance abuse crises.”

“We can more holistically support people experiencing homelessness and substance use disorder by strengthening the connections between health and homeless services, giving them a better chance of recovery and remaining stably housed,” Representative Dean said. “My son’s experience battling substance use disorder helped me further understand the importance of reducing barriers and streamlining critical supportive services to prevent relapse and strengthen the recovery journey. I look forward to working with Senator Padilla on this crucial legislation.”

“I applaud Senator Padilla for introducing the ‘Coordinating Substance Use and Homelessness Care Act,’ which builds on decades of research, learning, and bipartisan support for proven solutions to homelessness,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The evidence is irrefutable: the most effective way to end homelessness for most people is to provide affordable, accessible homes linked with voluntary wrap-around services, including substance use and other health services. By building our nation’s capacity to bring together housing and healthcare services, this bill can help us more effectively address homelessness.”

This legislation would establish a HUD grant program to award 5-year grants of up to $500,000 to eligible entities to improve their capacity to coordinate culturally competent, trauma-informed substance use disorder and homelessness services. Grantees must provide annual reports to HUD to evaluate the efficacy of their programs no later than 6 years after receiving the grant. Activities can include appointing a coordinator to oversee the overlap in services, improving systems infrastructure, improving technologies, helping with Medicaid enrollment, and increasing the availability of naloxone.

Since joining the Senate, Padilla has been a steadfast supporter of efforts to address the homelessness and housing crises. Earlier this year, Padilla introduced the Housing for All Act of 2022, comprehensive legislation to address the affordable housing and homelessness crises in California and across the country.

He also helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars for California through the American Rescue Plan that will support local affordable housing programs and projects. Padilla successfully advocated to extend the federal eviction moratorium and co-led the Keeping Renters Safe Act of 2021 to ensure that people in California and across the country are protected from unreasonable and dangerous evictions in the middle of a pandemic. He also cosponsored the West Los Angeles VA Campus Improvement Act, to help address veteran homelessness, which was signed into law last year.

The Coordinating Substance Use and Homelessness Care Act of 2022 is endorsed by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), Los Angeles Family Housing (LAFH), Pathways to Housing PA, California Centers for Behavioral Health, and Sycamores.

For a one-pager of the bill, click here.

For full text of the bill, click here.