(Senate - April 17, 2013)

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[Pages S2745-S2746]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I would like to recognize the National 
Coalition for the Homeless, an outstanding organization of activists, 
advocates, and community and faith-based service providers working to 
end homelessness in America. This year, the coalition celebrates its 
30th anniversary, marking three decades of triumphs and challenges in 
defense of our Nation's most vulnerable individuals and families.
  During the 1970s and 1980s, homelessness was thrust into the national 
spotlight as a growing problem. Structural changes in the economy, 
exacerbated by some tough economic downturns, thrust thousands of men, 
women, and children onto the streets, living without shelter. Out of 
concern for the rights of this vulnerable population, a group of State 
and local homeless coalitions gathered together and established the 
National Coalition for the Homeless in 1982. In these last 30 years, 
the National Coalition for the Homeless has been at the forefront of 
the fight against homelessness. The coalition's advocacy and passion 
have helped define housing policy for the disenfranchised in America.
  Through creative initiatives and outspoken advocacy, the coalition 
played an instrumental role in passage of the McKinney-Vento Homeless 
Assistance Act, the first comprehensive legislation to address the 
issue of homelessness in our country. Most recently, the coalition has 
spearheaded advocacy for the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless 
Statistics Act, a bill that would include crimes against the homeless 
in the crime data the Department of Justice collects. I was a member of 
the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 111th Congress and I was a 
proud sponsor of this bill. Homeless people are particularly vulnerable 
targets for acts of humiliation and violence. I believe more needs to 
be done to protect those who can't protect themselves. I am proud to 
report Maryland was a pioneer in extending hate crime protections to 
homeless people.
  I have been concerned about homelessness for a long time. I believe 
having adequate shelter is a human right.

[[Page S2746]]

A home provides safety from the elements and random acts of violence. 
It is a place where possessions and items as fundamental as medications 
can be kept safely. Yet, homelessness persists as one of our Nation's 
most pressing social problems and has grown more challenging in the 
wake of the housing market collapse and the return of veterans from the 
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As we continue to recover from the 
economic downturn, it is imperative that the Nation not lose ground in 
the struggle against homelessness, especially among Americans who have 
lost jobs through no fault of their own, those homeowners and families 
who are struggling due to the ongoing foreclosure crisis, and our 
  I applaud the courage of the members and volunteers of the National 
Coalition for the Homeless. Their selfless striving to end homelessness 
in America has changed the lives of thousands and thousands of our 
fellow Americans, even when so many others have averted their gaze. I 
hope my colleagues will join me in congratulating the National 
Coalition for the Homeless on 30 years of service to our communities 
and in rededicating ourselves to work with the coalition on ending the 
tragedy and scourge of homelessness in the richest nation on Earth.