Grateful for Your Advocacy

Let’s be honest for a moment: 2023 was a frustrating year on many fronts, including for homelessness. Federal funding for housing and homelessness programs is still insufficient, the homelessness services workforce is still significantly underpaid, and new criminalization laws are popping up at the state level (despite evidence that criminalization doesn’t work to end homelessness). But it’s all too easy to focus on the challenges: we must remember to celebrate our victories, too, to help keep us going in this fight.

In my role as Senior Field Organizer, I get to work with passionate advocates across the country who have committed endless time and energy to ending homelessness. Here at the Alliance, we are so grateful to have you as our partners in this fight to end homelessness. Your voices are critical and matter so much to Members of Congress, and we could not do this work without you.

Despite the difficulties of the past year, through your advocacy we were still able to make a difference. Here are a few key highlights that couldn’t have happened without the dedication of homelessness advocates:

T-HUD Amendments: You stopped several harmful amendments in the House Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill. An anti-Housing First amendment would have taken funding away from evidence-based programs based in the Housing First model, such as Rapid Re-Housing and permanent supportive housing. The HOPWA amendment would have eliminated funding for housing for persons diagnosed with AIDS/HIV, even though housing is a major healthcare intervention. Cutting funding for Fair Housing initiatives, as one amendment proposed, would have made it harder to process complaints in a timely manner.

Kept SNAP Protections in Place: You stopped an amendment to the Fiscal Year 24 House Agriculture Appropriations Bill that would have eliminated the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) exemption from work requirements for people experiencing homelessness, veterans, and young people transitioning out of foster care.

Advocated to Members of Congress during Capitol Hill Day: Following the Alliance’s July 2023 conference, more than 400 advocates advocated on Capitol Hill to demand action on federal funding for homelessness and housing. These asks included: ensuring the workforce is paid fairly by including a cost-of-living adjustment in Homeless Assistance Grant funding (similar to annual rent cost-of-living adjustment); more investments in Homeless Assistance Grants; and a two-year Notice of Funding Opportunity application cycle so Continuums of Care have time to implement and evaluate new projects and not get bogged down with excessive administrative paperwork.

Advocated for Fair Housing Testers: Fair housing testers help to determine if housing providers are complying with fair housing laws. HUD seeks to eliminate the restrictions for Fair Housing Initiative Program grantees and for Fair Housing Assistance Program agencies that forbid funding recipients from using fair housing testers with prior felony convictions or convictions of crimes involving fraud or perjury. Many advocates weighed in on HUD’s public comment period for this new rule – thank you!

Preserved Services for Veterans: You pushed for the preservation of lifesaving pandemic-era Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services to homeless veterans through the HUD-VASH program and to increase inadequate reimbursement rates to the Grant and Per Diem Program.

These are just a few examples of how you have influenced federal action in the past year. 2024 will bring challenges ahead, including the FY 24 federal spending budget, a Presidential election, and a growing discussion around effective homelessness solutions on both local and national stages . All of us at the Alliance deeply appreciate all the countless hours you put in to ensure everyone can access housing. We couldn’t ask for a better group of leaders and advocates like you to work alongside us.