The Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill that was passed by the appropriations subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives last week and that is scheduled to be marked up in the full U.S. House appropriations committee this week provides level funding for many training and employment programs that may assist homeless people in obtaining employment, but the bill can be strengthened to increase the number of unemployed people and homeless adults and youth who are able to receive training and employment services.
Overall, the House Labor, HHS, Education appropriations bill provides $12 billion for Labor programs, which is $138 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $765 million below the President’s budget request. Although the bill provides $47 million in additional funding for five of the Labor programs compared to the FY2016 enacted level, the bill cuts $156 million for Training and Employment Services, including $90 million for the National Apprenticeship program that was included in the FY2016 enacted law.
For Training and Employment Services, the House bill provides $3.177 billion including level funding of $815.5 million for adult employment and training activities and $873.4 million for youth activities and a $20 million increase to $1.040 billion for dislocated worker activities compared to the FY2016 enacted level. These three programs are highly effective and assist millions of Americans each year. The Department of Labor estimated that 7.19 million adult job seekers would receive services in the adult program, 681,000 people would receive services in the dislocated worker program, and 241,000 youth would be assisted in the youth program in program year 2017. Without the $26 million in additional funding requested by the Administration for the adult program, $28 million in additional funding requested for the youth program, and an additional $57 million requested for the dislocated worker program, 229,000 American adults may not receive services through the adult program, 8,000 youth may not receive assistance through the youth program, and not all of the 47,000 additional dislocated workers may not receive services through the dislocated worker program.
The House bill provides an increase of $2 million to $52 million for Native American programs. The Department of Labor estimated that 35,837 unemployed and under-skilled Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian adults would receive services through this program in program year 2017.
The House bill provides level funding of $84.5 million for YouthBuild activities and an $11 million increase to $1.7 billion for Job Corps. The Department of Labor estimated that 5,200 youth would be assisted through the YouthBuild program and 50,000 youth will be enrolled and 38,000 youth will be participants in the Job Corps program in program year 2017. Without the $54 million in additional funding requested by the Administration for the Job Corps program, the Job Corps program will have to decrease the number of participants in its program.
The House bill provides nearly level funding of $88.0 million for the reintegration of ex-offender activities. The Department of Labor estimated that 11,885 participants would be assisted in program year 2017. Without the $7 million in additional funding requested by the Administration, 875 participants may not be assisted through this program.
he House bill provides a $2.5 million increase to $235.5 million for Veterans Employment and Training and an $11.9 million increase to $50.0 million for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. The Department of Labor estimated that 22,000 participants would be assisted through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
The House bill cuts the $90 million for the National Apprenticeship Act apprenticeship program. The Department of Labor estimated that 36,000 new apprentices would be assisted in program year 2017. Without this $90 million in funding, the apprenticeship program will likely be cut and 36,000 people will likely not be able to participate in the apprenticeship program, which provides a salary upon registration and structured on-the-job training, increased wages as their skills, and thus productivity, increases, and nationally recognized certificates of completion upon successful completion.
When considering the Labor, Health, and Education appropriations bill, the House appropriations committee should provide the additional $111 million requested for the adult, youth, and dislocated worker programs that would assist about an additional 250,000 people, provide the additional $53 million requested for the Job Corps program to prevent cuts in the number of Job Corps participants, provide the additional $7 million requested for the reintegration of ex-offender program that would assist an additional 875 participants, and restore the $90 million in funding for the apprenticeship programs that would assist an additional 36,000 people.
This funding is needed because there are still millions of unemployed Americans and homeless adults and youth. For example, our recent report, Without a Home and More: Homeless Youth Count 2015, found that only between 8% and 36% of more than 2,000 homeless youth surveyed in ten locations were employed and between 10% and 51% of more than 1,200 of the homeless youth surveyed in four locations reported they needed job training or employment assistance. The youth activities program, YouthBuild program, and Job Corps program, which provide assistance to low-income youth including foster youth, homeless youth, runaway youth, pregnant or parenting youth, ex-offender youth, youth with disabilities, and other youth who may need additional assistance to complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment, could provide the job training and employment assistance that homeless youth reported needing. By providing funding for the Department of Labor employment and training programs, not only can Congress help unemployed and homeless Americans obtain employment, they can also prevent and end homelessness for many Americans.