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LEGACY Inspires Federal Housing Legislation

The Academy Award® nominated film, LEGACY, has inspired the introduction of legislation to help provide safe and affordable housing for grandparents and other relatives raising children across the U.S. Just as Dorothy played a key role in keeping the Collins family together by caring for her daughter Wanda’s children, more than 2 million grandparents find themselves unexpectedly caring for their grandchildren. This phenomenon, which cuts across socio-economic groups, race, and geographic areas, is due to a variety of factors, such as parental substance abuse, incarceration, child abuse and/or neglect, abandonment, death of a parent, family violence, and mental health problems. Grandparents raising grandchildren encounter a range of challenges: school enrollment, access to medical care, legal issues, and lack of safe and affordable housing.

Motivated by the courageous story of the Collins family in the LEGACY film, and the continuous flow of housing requests from grandparents raising children across the country, Generations United, has partnered with members of Congress to develop legislation to help provide safe and affordable housing to these families. In March 2002, Representatives Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Connie Morella (R-MD) introduced the LEGACY Act: Living Equitably-Grandparents Aiding Children and Youth. And, on June 5, 2002, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced the companion LEGACY bill in the U.S. Senate. Among the provisions of this bill are to provide housing specifically designed for grandparents raising grandchildren and to educate housing officials on issues related to these families.

Even the best legislation will not pass if it is not supported by a comprehensive outreach and education campaign. The LEGACY documentary is providing the vehicle for such widespread education on the housing needs of grandparents raising grandchildren. Representative Capuano explains, "The LEGACY film, which documents some of the challenges facing grandparents raising grandchildren, has been especially helpful with my colleagues on Capitol Hill. It has helped to show that these families are living in every state and Congressional District in the nation, and that their unique needs are not always being met." In addition to educating members of Congress, the film has been used to inspire action in schools, churches, support groups, conferences, and social service organizations across the U.S., where groups have held screenings of the film followed by group discussion, forums, and letter writing campaigns.

For more information on the LEGACY Act, visit the following pages.

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