Now that we’re approaching the end of the Federal Fiscal Year (it ends on September 30), you may be wondering where spending levels for homeless programs stand. Under normal circumstances, the full Senate and House of Representatives would have passed spending bills by now and they would be working to reconcile them. Circumstance have changed.
Do we have cause for hope or alarm? Well, yes and yes. This phase of the appropriations process has in recent years become so contentious and fraught that it has resulted in government shutdowns and a budgetary compromise (sequestration) that everyone agrees was a bad idea to begin with. So it should come as no surprise that the appropriations process for FY 2016 is, for the time being, stalled.
This July, more than 275 advocates swarmed Capitol Hill during the Alliance’s Capitol Hill Day event to tell Congress about the excellent work federally funded homeless assistance programs are doing in their communities and how Congress can better support them.
Congress is now on recess, so the place for advocates to find members is no longer the Hill; it’s their home states and districts. If you participated in Capitol Hill Day, it’s time to extend the conversation with your member of Congress and show them your program. If you missed out, it’s time to build a relationship.
For too long, the needs of most homeless youth have gone unaddressed. While communities around the country run many good programs to help them, these programs are typically filled to capacity and serve only a fraction of youth in need.
That means that tonight, many homeless youth, including youth under the age of 18, will have no safe place to stay. Instead, they will camp out in abandoned buildings, in the woods, in garages, or spend the night in homes where they are in danger of abuse or sexual exploitation. Or they may just walk the streets all night.
You might have heard of the Homeless Children and Youth Act (S.256), which was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein to address family and youth homelessness. The Alliance opposes this bill because it will not solve the housing problems of families and youth that it aims to, and makes significant changes to the homeless assistance system that are unnecessary, burdensome, and harmful. This document explains three detrimental impacts this bill would have and suggests alternative approaches to address the problems the bill aims to address.
If you receive the Alliance’s advocacy alerts, you might recall that not long ago members of Congress were circulating “Dear Colleague” letters in the House and Senate.
These letters give members of Congress the opportunity to publicly sign on in support of robust funding levels for programs that they believe should be national priorities. The Dear Colleague letters circulating in congress that were of most interest to us, of course, were letters in support of increased funding levels for homeless assistance and affordable housing programs.