United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Labo.

America Cares Act : hearing of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, on S. 1190, to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish an America Cares program to provide for the establishment of demonstration projec online

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on LaboAmerica Cares Act : hearing of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, on S. 1190, to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish an America Cares program to provide for the establishment of demonstration projec → online text (page 1 of 4)
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S. Hrg. 103-269

AMERICA CARES AQ



Y4.L 11/4; S, HRG. 103-269

Anerica Cires ftct, S.Hrg. 103-269....

njiiAKiNG

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON

LABOR AND HUMAN RESOURCES

UNITED STATES SENATE

ONE HXJNDRED THIRD CONGRESS
FIRST SESSION

ON

S. 1190

TO REQUIRE THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO
ESTABLISH AN AMERICA CARES PROGRAM TO PROVIDE FOR THE ES-
TABUSHMENT OF DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS FOR THE PROVISION
OF VOUCHERS AND CASH CONTRIBUTIONS FOR GOODS AND SERV-
ICES FOR HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS, TO PROVIDE TECHNICAL ASSIST-
ANCE AND PUBLIC INFORMATION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

JULY 21, 1993



Printed for the use of the Committee on Labor and Hviman Resources




U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFTICE
70-788 cc WASHINGTON : 1993



For sale by the U.S. Government Pnnting Office
Supcnniendent of Documents. Congressional Sales Office. Washington. DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-045857-9



'9



AMERICA CARES ACT



Y 4.L 11/4; S.HRG, 103-269

Anerica Cares Act. S.Hrg. 103-269,...

nuiAKiNG

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON

LABOR AND HUMAN RESOURCES

UNITED STATES SENATE

ONE HUNDRED THIRD CONGRESS
FIRST SESSION

ON

S. 1190

TO REQUIRE THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO
ESTABLISH AN AMERICA CARES PROGRAM TO PROVIDE FOR THE ES-
TABLISHMENT OF DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS FOR THE PROVISION
OF VOUCHERS AND CASH CONTRIBUTIONS FOR GOODS AND SERV-
ICES FOR HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS, TO PROVIDE TECHNICAL ASSIST-
ANCE AND PUBLIC INFORMATION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

JULY 21, 1993



Printed for the use of the Conunittee on Labor and Human Resources







U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
70-788 cc WASHINGTON : 1993



For sale by the U.S. Govemmeni Pnnting Office
Superimendeni of Documents, Congressional Sales Office. Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-045857-9



COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND HUMAN RESOURCES

EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts. Chairman
CLAIBORNE PELL, Rhode Island NANCY LANDON KASSEBAUM, Kansas

HOWARD M. METZENBAUM, Ohio JAMES M. JEFFORDS, Vermont

CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut DAN COATS, Indiana

PAUL SIMON, Illinois JUDD GREGG, New Hampshire

TOM HARKIN, Iowa STROM THURMOND, South Carolina

BARBARA A. MIKULSKI, Maryland ORRIN G. HATCH. Utah

JEFF BINGAMAN, New Mexico DAVE DURENBERGER, Minnesota

PAUL D. WELLSTONE, Minnesota
HARRIS WOFFORD, Pennsylvania

Nick LirxLEnELD, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Susan K. Hattan, Minority Staff Director

(U)



CONTENTS



STATEMEhfTS
Wednesday, July 21, 1993

Page

Bingaman, Hon. Jeff, a U.S. Senator from the State of New Mexico, prepared

statement ;;••••;•",• A": i

Rhine, Rebecca and Amy Maddock, Berkeley Cares, Berkeley, CA 6

Prepared statement ••••••• ^

Adan, Ellen, president. Nob Hill Merchants Association, Albuquerque, NM,

and Audrey Hendricks, Salvation Army, Washington, DC 17

Prepared statement of Ms. Adan 18

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

Articles, publications, letters, etc.:

Berkeley's Answer to Begging, from the New York Times, Thursday,

September 19, 1991 4

Vouchers: A Way to Feel Good Again About Giving, from the Washington

Post, Sunday, July 4, 1993 5

(UI)



THE AMERICA CARES ACT



WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 1993

U.S. Senate,
Committee on Labor and Human Resources,

Washington, DC.

The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 12:20 p.m., in room
SD-^30, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator Jeff Bmgaman,

presiding.

Present: Senator Bingaman.

Opening Statement of Senator Bingaman
Senator Bingaman. Let's get started on our hearing on the home-
less legislation. .. , . , ^- i i xv i.
I want to thank everybody for bemg here, particxilarly the wit-

nesses.

This is a short hearing that we are wedging in between some
other things because of all the other activity going on here m the
Congress, but I think it is an important hearing, because I do be-
Ueve that the legislation that we have introduced, the America
Cares Act, building on the Berkeley Cares program, is an impor-
tant initiative for the whole coimtry to concentrate its attention on.

Let me just thank Senator Kennedy again for allowing us to have
the hearing. This hearing is essential before we can take any action
on the legislation, and that is why we were anxious to have it

today. , . . 1 •

As some of you know, I first became interested m pursumg legis-
lation like this after seeing a television story about Berkeley Cares
which I think CNN was running on an airplane that I was flymg
across the country on. It seemed to me that what Berkeley was
doing could be a model for what a lot of communities might be able
to do to deal with the homeless problem. Accordingly, we tried to
get more information on it. , , ^ ^ i

The people at Berkeley Cares were extremely helpful to us m ex-
plaining the program and helping us to put together legislation,
which we have now introduced. And I do think that we have the
chance here to move ahead and have a very innovative program
that Berkeley began spread to a lot of other communities. That is

The way we have drafted this legislation, it is Senate bill 1190,
sponsored by Senator Harkin, Senator Feinstein, and myself. It
provides competitive grants up to $60,000 to each of 60 local orga-
nizations in 60 communities around the country to start programs
similar to this. Each program would provide a 25 percent match m
order to qualify for the grant. The 60 programs created by the leg-
CD



islation would be demonstration programs in that each State and
the District of Columbia would have an opportunity to participate
or to propose to participate, and in selecting the programs, the Sec-
retary of Health and Human Services would look at the extent of
community interest, look for different ideas about how this voucher
system could be most effectively used. In addition, the Secretary
would examine possibilities for providing contributions for home-
less service providers, which is an issue we want to discuss after
hearing the testimony. And at the end of 1 year, the Secretary
would then look at the results of these programs and report back
to us as to whether the Federal Government needed to continue
with a level of support, or whether this is something that made
sense for other communities.

Programs Uke this, I beheve, are not a substitute for addressing
the root causes of homelessness, but without programs like this, I
don't know if we are going to be able to mobilize private citizens
to help in solving the problem. So I think that is the great strength
of it.

Small amounts of money required to set up some additional seed
programs, or to seed the establishment of more pilot programs like
this, I think might be well-spent taxpayer dollars.

[The prepared statement of Senator Bingaman follows:]

Prepared Statement of Senator Bingaman

Mr. President, I rise today to introduce legislation to enable com-
mimities across the Nation to create programs to enhance private
giving to the homeless.

This legislation, called America Cares, is based on the positive
experience of Berkeley Cares, a partnership of businesses, homeless
service providers, and concerned citizens that jointed together to
try to address the issue of panhandling by the homeless in Berke-
ley's business areas. After much discussion, this group decided to
try the idea of providing vouchers for sell to citizens, who could
then give these vouchers to the homeless. These vouchers would be
redeemable for food, toiletries, and other goods and services, but
could not be redeemed for alcohol or tobacco.

Tlie program has been a tremendous success. First, it has pro-
vided help to the homeless. Ordinary people now know they can
help the homeless with the assurance that any donation they make
through vouchers will not be used for drugs or alcohol. There is no
doubt that the vouchers have assisted in helping turn lives around
by providing access to food and other basic necessities. For some
homeless individuals, this program has been the first step on the
way back to self-reliance.

Second, the Berkeley Cares model gives ordinary citizens a way
to help homeless people that they can feel great about. I think all
of us have had the experience of being approached by someone beg-
ging for money. On the other hand, we have the sinking feeUng
that the money we give will not end up helping. This fear that the
panhandler will only use the money for alcohol or drugs holds us
back. So sometimes we refuse to give, and then castigate ourselves
for not being generous. But other times we give anyway, and we
castigate ourselves for being taken for suckers.



The voucher program gives ordinary citizens a chance to help the
homeless directly and feel good about their giving and their con-
cern. They can be assured that every voucher they pay for and
hand to someone who is homeless can only be redeemed for food
and other goods and services that will in reality help them — help
them to maintain their physical health and self-esteem.

Third, the program has also helped the business community.
Some of the aggressive panhandlers in Berkeley simply moved on,
moved away, when it became apparent that a sizeable number of
people would give them vouchers that could not be used for drugs
or alcohol. Many others used the vouchers for goods and services
in local businesses, which in turn could be redeemed for cash by
the merchants. Thus, new customers for businesses have been cre-
ated, in a sense, by the vouchers. Early fears that homeless people
redeeming vouchers in a store would "scare ofT other customers
proved to be groundless. In fact, participating businesses have
found that many customers patronize business establishments who
sell and redeem vouchers, in a show of appreciation for their in-
volvement in Berkeley Cares.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Berkeley Cares pro-
gram has helped educate the community about the issues of the
homeless. By helping individuals help others, it has "primed the
pump" for bringing the community's voluntary talents and re-
sources to bear on solving the problems faced by the homeless.
General awareness in the Berkeley community has increased as
people have begun to see themselves as part of the solution to
these problems.

As this awareness has increased, homeless service providers have
seen increased support, in part through a separate contribution as-
pect of the Berkeley Cares program. Communication between serv-
ice providers, citizens, and the business community has also in-
creased.

I think this Berkeley Cares experience can benefit other commu-
nities. Indeed, other cities are already attempting to set up pro-
grams. In Albuquerque, NM, for example, there is some interest in
creating a program in at least one neighborhood shopping area.

My legislation helps new programs get started. It provides com-
petitive grants of up to $60,000 to at least 60 local organizations
to start programs like Berkeley Cares. Each program will provide
a 25 percent match to qualify for the grant. The 60 programs cre-
ated by this legislation will be demonstration programs in the
widest sense of the word. In selecting the programs, the Secretary
of Health and Human Services will look for diverse ideas regarding
where the vouchers are sold, and what goods and services they are
redeemable for. In addition, the Secretary will examine possibilities
for providing contributions for homeless service providers. At the
end of the year, the Secretaiy will look at the results of these di-
verse programs, and considering what might work in their commu-
nities.

My approach is cost-effective. The very small amount of money
required to seed these new programs will, if these programs work,
direct much more private money than is now made available to
help meet the needs of homeless people. The key to America Cares
is that it unleashes ^e great good will and generosity of the ordi-



nary citizens and businesses to help the homeless and feel a great
priae about their generosity. It will accomplish the direction of sub-
stantially more private resources to meet the needs of the home-
less.

But it is also important to stress that programs created through
America Cares are no substitute for addressing the root causes of
homelessness. We as a nation cannot turn our back on the need to
ensure adequate affordable housing, job training, and health care.
Without each of these elements in place, it is likely that homeless-
ness will remain with us. America Cares, however, can be a cost
effective way in which the Federal Government can help local com-
munities alleviate some of the pain of those who are homeless, and
help mobilize communities across the Nation to fight the root
causes of homelessness.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the America Cares leg-
islation be placed in the record following this statement.

[from the new york times — ^thursday, september 19, 1991]

Berkeley's Answer to Begging — ^Vouchers for Food, Laundry and Hot

Showers

by ira eisenberg

San Francisco likes to proclaim itself '^e dty that knows how," and its citizens
look down their noses at what they snidely refer to as the People's Republic of
Berkeley.

Yet the community across the bay has lately succeeded where San Francisco has
failed. Berkeley has found an effective and humane way to discourage panhandlers
without violating anyone's rights or endowing yet another costly government bu-
reaucracy.

In Apnl, and with little more than enthusiastic encouragement fix)m City Hall,
town merchants, social service providers and the University of California created
the Berkeley Cares Voucher Program.

Instead of shunning street beggars, or grudgingly handing them cash, Berkeley
residents can now offer panhandlers vouchers purchased fivm local merchants. The
vouchers are as good as real monev for bimng food, laxmdry, services, bus fares,
even hot showers. Iliey can't be exchanged for alcohol or cigarettes, let alone illegal
drugs.

Here's how the plan works. The vouchers are worth 25 cents each and can be ex-
changed at a growing nvunber of participating businesses or agencies, some 7,600
vouchers — about $1,900 worth — ^have already oeen sold at Berkeley City Hall and
by downtown merchants. The forgery-proof vouchers are printed and distributed by
the Associated Students organization at the university.

The voucher program is onlv in its infancy, but by all accounts Berkeley's street
people are already eating and even smelling better, and those desperate for hard
currency to finance a drug habit are drifting elsewhere. Shoppers are cautiously re-
turning to embattled Telegraph Avenue, a shopping street near the campus. And
merchants are now eagerly selling and accepting vouchers. According to Rebecca
Rhine of the Telegraph Avenue Merchants association, the plan '^as already altered
the economy of panhandling."

Around the same time that the Berkeley Cares program was being developed, the
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the city's Mayor, Art Agnos, were also
touting a voucher system aimed at panhandlers. But their proposed vouchers would
merely have been notes directing the recipient to sources of fi-ee food and other serv-
ices. 'They would have had no cash value and couldn't be used to buy a sandwich
or wash dothes.

The plan bore all the earmarks of a publidty stunt and dropped from sight when
critics pointed out that handing a slip of worthless paper to a hungry or strung-
out street person was no way to discourage aggressiveness.

Berkeley Cares is not a government or university-sponsored program. Though the
dty provided funds to get it off the gnnind, the program springs from a community
that insists on governing itself "This is dearlv an idea that works," says Mayor
Loni Hancock of Berkeley. She has r4eceived caUs from offidals in Detroit, Phoenix,



Philadelphia and even San Francisco seeking advice on how to start voucher pro-

^^^en its most enthusiastic boosters don't believe vouchers are the solution to
homelessness. As Mayor Hancock acknowledges, "It's impossible for any city to realy
solve the homeless problem within its borders because the problem doesn't originate
locally. Homelessness is a national problem." ^ „ ^ , « i.

So while the burghers of San Francisco fume and fuss about those people who
sleep in parks, urinate in doorways and beg on the streets, the good citizens of
Berkeley have found a way to help the homeless as well as themselves, and improve
both the economic and social climate of their community. Now that's a city that
knows how.

[From the Washington Post— Sunday, July 4, 1993]

Vouchers: A Way to Feel Good Again About Giving

The DC government recently instituted an ordinance to outlaw aggressive pan-
handling, because people who once gave freely to those in need had come to feel so
threatened by the throngs that seemed to accost them at every comer, stoplight and
metro stop that they demanded legal protection.

But clearing the street and punishing all panhandlers isn't the way to turn this
situation around in Washington or in any other city. We need to address the root
causes of homelessness; we need to improve housing and health care and provide
the homeless with job training and employment opportunities. However, that doesn t
mean we should stop our individual efforts to help the homeless, one person at a
time. .

Most Washingtonians still want to help the homeless they see on the streets, but
they ar« frustrated by not knowing what happens to the money they give away—
is their spare change feeding a hungry person or a drug habit? Are pwihandlers out
to make easy money, or worse, are they setting people up to be robbed?

Berkeley, Calif, has found an innovative way to address these issues. Through
a program called Berkeley Cares, its citizens can buy vouchers to give to homeless
people, who can then redeem them for food and other necessities— but not for items
like tobacco or alcohol. The vouchers have a value of only 25 cents to discourage
counterfeiting. . ^ v v

The program, which has the support of the city's downtown merchants, has been
a success on several fronts. It has helped educate the community about the prob-
lems of the homeless and has helped people see themselves as part of the solution.
It also has rid the community of some of its more aggressive panhandlers, who
moved on when they could no longer solicit cash to spend on drugs or alcohol.

And it has helped the business community. Some Berkeley merchants initially
worried that homeless people redeeming vouchers would drive away other cus-
tomers. The opposite turned out to be true— people actually patronized participating
businesses to show their support for the program. In Berkeley, citizens are now tak-
ing personal responsibility for what is seen as the community's problem rather than
a problem for some bureaucracy.

As word of the success of the Berkeley program spreads, similar programs might
spring up on their own in other American cities. But I want to help this process
along with legislation I introduced last week in the Senate called "America Cares."
The $3.6 million my bill would authorize would provide seed money funds to start
at least 60 Berkeley-style voucher programs at a modest Federal investment of no
more than $60,000 a program. Each program would have to provide a 25 percent
match in funds to qualify for the grants.

Of course, the America Cares initiative alone will not eliminate homelessness. But
voucher programs can help homeless people acquire the essentials to become self-
reliant and can be instrumental in mobilizing voluntary commvmity resources to
work on homelessness. And voucher programs also would go a long way toward
eliminating the mistrust and guilt on the pat of the homeless and those who are
considering helping them.

If we can make people feel good again about giving to their neighbors, If we can
let people know that Uieir money is doing the good that they hoped it would, then
maybe we can reverse the trend signaled by laws like the one of the District re-
cently passed to restrict contact between panhandlers and other citizens. Maybe we
could get back to a place where the sight of a homeless person is a cause for con-
cern.

Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat, is a U.S. Senator from New Mexico.



Senator Bingaman. Let me start by introducing our witnesses.
Our first panel includes Amy Maddock and Rebecca Rhine of the
Berkeley Cares program. Amy staffs the Berkeley Cares program,
and Rebecca has been involved in the program since its inception.
It has been very generous, as I indicated before, in helping us to
draft this legislation.

Which of you would like to start?

Ms. Rhine. I will. Senator.

Senator BiNGAMAN. OK, Rebecca, why don't you go right ahead.
We are glad you are here, and thank you for coming.

STATEMENTS OF REBECCA RHINE AND AMY MADDOCK,
BERKELEY CARES, BERKELEY, CA

Ms. Rhine. Thank you for inviting us. Obviously, we are de-

Ughted to be here. , ^ . . , ,

As you said, I was there at the beginning, and you know what
they say ^you can always blame those who were there at the be-
ginning. , T> , 1 IM

Berkeley Cares came into being because Berkeley, hke every
other urban area in this country, has had over the past 12 years
problems with panhandling and related street behaviors that have
often alienated community members.

We had a severe problem like other urban areas, and we had to
figure out what to do about it.

There had been attempts made by isolated groups, the service
providers or just the business community, to come up with a work-
able program, and none of those programs worked alone. So we got
together a group of about 18 people — service providers, the home-
less themselves, the business community, people from the Univer-
sity of California at Berkeley, people from the City of Berkeley. We
all sat down, and the basic ground rule was that we had to tell the
truth to each other, we had to be frank, honest, and really describe
the problem from each perspective. And that is what we did.

So over a series of about five or six meetings, people were real
frank— business people describing the direct impact on business
from aggressive panhandUng; service providers were very frank in
describing the impact on a panhandler of being treated like an in-
animate object.

We knew that a police solution to aggressive panhandling was
not one that we in the City of Berkeley would ever use because we
felt it was morally wrong, and it did not really address the prob-
lem. Using a poUce solution was not getting the community in-
volved in helping to solve a problem.

So we decided that we wanted to do something, and at one of^our
meetings somebody said, "Why don't we do a voucher program?" To
this day, we don't know who it was who said that. Brainstorming
sessions are like that, and we still don't know. But we decided to
do it, and in the course of about 10 months, with a lot of volunteer
hours, we started the program with $5,500 in seed money. We
started Berkeley Cares 2 years ago this week, and since then, the
program has grown enormously.

We have been delighted with the level of education in the com-
munity about Berkeley Cares. What Berkeley Cares has done is
show the community that each individual act has an impact on the



quality of life on the street and on the homeless person who is a
recipient of a voucher instead of cash.

I personally knew the program was going to work before we had
even started it. We received an enormous amount of press atten-
tion. I was approached by a reporter from a local newspaper who
told me, "I just walked down Telegraph Avenue, and at random, I
selected eight people who were panhandling, and I asked them how
they felt about the idea of getting a 25-cent voucher instead of
cash." And five of the eight said to this reporter almost exactly the
same thing, which was: "Well, I guess it's a good idea because it
means I'll have to cut down on my drinking."

When I heard that, I knew, even before we started the program,
that we were going to be successful, because that was exactly what
we wanted to do — help people in a positive, compassionate way, but
not help them be self-destructive. And we knew we could educate
the commimity about that and get people to participate. It is an in-
dividual act. It is easy. It is tremendously positive and hopeful.

Out of this group of people who had competing interests, we now
have a very harmonious group that works together in lots of ways.
We still have our differences, but we realized that as a community,
we had to address the program jointly, and we have been enor-
mously pleased. So we did aH of this with volunteer effort until fi-


1 3 4

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on LaboAmerica Cares Act : hearing of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, on S. 1190, to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish an America Cares program to provide for the establishment of demonstration projec → online text (page 1 of 4)