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McKinney Act For Homeless, Praised by Bush, Has History of GOP Opposition With PM-Political

September 27, 1988

McKinney Act For Homeless, Praised by Bush, Has History of GOP Opposition With PM-Political Rdp Bjt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A bill that Vice President George Bush says is a good way to help the homeless is drawing flak from the Reagan administration, which argues that some of its provisions are duplicative and ineffective.

In a statement distributed Monday, the administration’s Office of Management and Budget said that portions of the so-called McKinney bill ″duplicate existing programs″ and are so complex that they ″do not effectively address the needs of this population.″

In his debate Sunday with Democratic rival Michael Dukakis, Republican presidential nominee Bush said that to help the nation’s homeless people, the government should ″fully fund the McKinney Act.″

The legislation was initially signed into law on July 22, 1987, after President Reagan railed about the measure’s expense and ″duplicative programs.″

The law created programs worth $1.1 billion over the last two years for housing, health care, education, job training and other help for the nation’s homeless people. Legislation authorizing $1.3 billion worth of expenditures for the next two years is working its way through Congress.

In its statement, OMB said it favored the bill’s programs for emergency food and shelter and for transitional housing.

But the agency said the administration opposes parts of the bill which would give bonuses to states that place welfare recipients in jobs, would eliminate some rental assistance, and would pay salaries for state workers who coordinate homeless activities.

The statement did not, however, contain any threat to veto the bill.

When the original version of the legislation passed the House on a 264-121 vote on March 5, 1987, all but eight of the votes cast against it were by Republicans. GOP lawmakers argued that the easure would increase the federal deficit, and was so generous that it might worsen the problem by encouraging even more people to live in the streets.

Passage came two nights after a highly publicized ″Grate American Sleep- Out,″ in which several members of Congress joined homeless advocate Mitch Snyder and actor Martin Sheen for an evening sleeping on a grate two blocks from the Capitol.

The Senate passed a less expensive version of the bill on a voice vote a month later.

Housing advocates have been disappointed with the results of the legislation. The Reagan administration has consistently sought - and Congress has provided - actual spending levels far below the amounts permitted in the bill. For the first two years of the law, for example, Congress appropriated only $700 million out of a possible $1.1 billion.

The money provided under the legislation was largely distributed to non- profit agencies and to state and local governments. It has been used to provide emergency food and shelter, to purchase and rehabilitate group homes, to pay for health and education programs, to help tenants pay rent, and for other projects.

The measure was named after the late Rep. Stewart B. McKinney, R-Conn., one of the legislation’s original sponsors. McKinney died May 7, 1987.

Estimates of the number of homeless in the country range between 250,000 to 3 million people.

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