ASPCA Commends Federal Lawmakers for Introducing Legislation to Remove Barriers to Housing for Pet OwnersNew federal bills would prohibit breed restrictions in public housing and provide critically needed support for unhoused people with pets to help them find emergency housing with their pets
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends federal lawmakers for introducing two bills in the 118th Congress that will remove housing barriers for pet-owning families, especially lower-income households and people experiencing homelessness, to help keep people and pets together.
The Providing for Unhoused People with Pets (PUPP) Act, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), would provide grants to homeless shelters to support residents with pets. This bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretaries to award one-time grants to emergency shelters to acquire, rehabilitate, re-purpose, retrofit, or construct a property to be used to accommodate unhoused individuals with pets, and to fund pet-related operating costs, including basic veterinary and behavioral services. Co-sheltering programs – a housing approach that keeps people and pets together – are feasible and successful in providing greater options for communities working to end homelessness.
Additionally, U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Jason Crow (D-Colo.) have introduced the Pets Belong with Families Act, which would prohibit public housing agencies (PHA) from imposing breed-specific restrictions and discourage those entities from imposing size and weight restrictions as well. This legislation will still allow for PHA discretion with regard to potentially dangerous individual animals, and would not override local jurisdictions or private housing restrictions.
“Pets are vital sources of love and comfort to their owners—especially during stressful times—and neither that bond nor the safety of those animals should ever be threatened by discriminatory breed restrictions in public housing or a lack of pet-friendly homeless shelters. The PUPP Act and Pets Belong with Families Act will ensure no one will have to choose between keeping their pets and securing affordable, stable housing for themselves,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “The ASPCA is proud to support these critical pieces of legislation that protect the powerful and mutually beneficial connections between people and their beloved pets.”
Breed, size and weight restrictions, no-pet policies, high pet deposits, and a lack of pet-friendly emergency sheltering options all serve as major challenges to keeping pets and people together. Current HUD regulations allow public housing authorities to discriminate against pets based on breed, despite the best available science rejecting a correlation between breed and aggression. This policy can prevent families from finding affordable, stable housing.
Similarly, transitional housing for unhoused individuals often do not allow pets, creating a serious shortage of available services. Data shows that lack of pet friendly emergency and temporary housing leads many unhoused individuals to decline assistance, further exacerbating the homelessness crisis.
“Pets are a much-needed source of comfort and companionship—they’re part of the family. No one should have to choose between their pet and a roof over their head," said Congressman Crow. "I’m glad to introduce the PUPP Act and Pets Belong with Families Act to improve shelter accommodations for unhoused individuals with pets and prohibit needless restrictions on certain animal breeds in public housing. All Coloradans, and their beloved pets, should have a safe, affordable place to call home.”
“Pets belong with their owners, and all responsible owners deserve to keep their four-legged companions, regardless of housing status,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “This bipartisan pair of bills will ensure that unhoused individuals are able to have shelter with their pets, and remove breed-restrictions on public housing that often forces individuals to choose between their pets and stable housing. I’m proud to join my colleagues on the PUPP Act and the Pets Belong With Families Act to stand up for animals and their owners.”
“I’m introducing the Pets Belong with Families Act and the PUPP Act because no one should have to choose between keeping their beloved pet or having a safe place to call home,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “These bills will ensure people living in affordable housing or experiencing homelessness can keep their pets by removing discriminatory breed restrictions in public housing and providing funding to housing services to accommodate pets.”
"As strong advocates for both our brave veterans and our furry companions, we wholeheartedly support the PUPP Act. This critical legislation removes a significant barrier to emergency housing by recognizing the importance of keeping families and individuals together with their beloved pets,” said Rep. Mace. “By authorizing grants for acquiring, renovating, and constructing pet-friendly housing, we ensure no one is forced to choose between their own well-being and the well-being of their four-legged friends. We can make a lasting impact on the lives of countless individuals, providing them with the safety and support they deserve, while keeping their cherished pets by their side."
Long before the pandemic, the lack of access to pet-friendly housing was cited as a primary reason that families were forced to make the difficult choice to surrender their pets. As pandemic-related financial and housing security concerns continue to evolve, the devastating economic hardships of poverty and inflation are creating challenges for millions of pets in addition to people.
The ASPCA is working hard to advance policy solutions to increase access to pet-friendly housing and critical veterinary services to help keep pets and people together. Additionally, the ASPCA is one of the many organizations within the animal welfare field working to provide partially and fully subsidized veterinary care and resources to pets and owners, including through their targeted efforts in New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami and for equines in Oklahoma.
For more information about the ASPCA’s efforts to increase access to pet-friendly housing, or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.