More reports come in every day of high rates of COVID-19 in homeless shelters, and of homeless people dying on the streets. Communities are working hard to keep homeless people safe and keep the number of homeless people from skyrocketing. They are anxiously awaiting HUD’s distribution of the $4 billion included by Congress in the CARES act to fund these efforts. That money will be a great help. But as they make plans for using it, communities are reaffirming that it won’t be enough.
Congress is now setting to work on another large emergency spending bill, tentatively referred to as CARES 2.0. There have been indications that this is an opportunity to do more on homelessness, both directly within the homeless system to keep homeless people safe and moving into housing, and through much larger efforts to prevent people from losing their housing.
The Time is Now
The next few weeks, starting today, will be a time when advocacy with Congress can have a substantial impact. We must take this time to educate them about which resources our communities need and what we can accomplish with them.
What We’re Seeking
The Alliance will be promoting three things in this bill:
- $11.5 billion in additional Emergency Solutions Grants funding to help people who have become homeless stay safe and return to housing quickly;
- $100 billion to scale up efforts to prevent housing instability, eviction, and new homelessness; and
- New Section 8 vouchers. These are the only practical way to permanently escape homelessness for those who are at the greatest risk from COVID-19. For a list of the Alliance’s proposals, see here.
How You Can Help
There are two ways to help. The first, something everyone can do, is use the Alliance’s online advocacy tools to contact your Representatives and Senators and ask for their help with this agenda. These tools are live on the Alliance’s website. We hope every one reading this will use the tools now, and ask others to do so as well.
If you can do more, we’re looking for people who will take a more personal approach, by having conversations involving staff people for your members of Congress, along with others in your community. Sound interesting? If so, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’ll help take your Congressional advocacy to the next level.
We have a chance to make a big difference. Let’s go!