Last week was a busy one for the Alliance’s policy team. On Monday, Feb. 2, the Obama administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget proposal, and we wasted no time in poring over the details to determine exactly what the administration is proposing for key homeless assistance and affordable housing programs.
Soon after, we published a number of materials on the budget proposal for advocates, from a chart that outlines the proposed funding levels by program to sample FY 2016 appropriations talking points. You can find them all at our President’s FY 2016 Budget Briefing page.
We also hosted a webinar that provided an overview of the appropriations process and an analysis of the administration’s proposed funding levels. In case you didn’t have a chance to register, we're providing a breakdown here of the important funding levels we covered. (You can watch a recording of the webinar embedded above this blog post.)
During the webinar, one of the funding levels the administration had proposed that we were excited about sharing was the $2.480 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. That number represents a 16 percent increase over the FY 2015 enacted funding level and would:
- Provide a minimum of $250 million for the Emergency Solutions Grant program (the same amount as provided in FY 2015);
Provide a minimum of $2.223 billion for Continuum of Care programs, which would meet the renewal demand and additionally:
- Create 25,500 new units of permanent supportive housing to get us on track to reach the goal of ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2017. (The administration has pushed the original date it had set for ending chronic homelessness back a year because of budget constraints).
- Fund 15,000 rapid re-housing interventions for families to help communities make progress in ending family homelessness.
Provide up to $7 million for the National Homelessness Data Analysis project.
Another significant funding level is the $21.123 billion that the administration is proposing for tenant-based rental assistance (also known as the Section 8 program). That level would cover contract renewals and fund increases for administrative fees, Tenant Protection Vouchers, and mainstream vouchers. It would also fund the restoration of 67,000 vouchers that were lost as the result of sequestration cuts in FY 2013.
Here’s a breakdown of those 67,000 new vouchers:
- 22,500 would be targeted to vulnerable populations experiencing homelessness and victims of domestic or dating violence;
- 5,000 would be targeted to victims and survivors of domestic or dating violence, sexual assault or stalking;
- 2,500 would be Family Unification Program vouchers, which would ease the transition of youth in foster care to independence, as well as assist families who have children in foster care due to a lack of safe and adequate housing; and
- 37,000 would be distributed to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) based on relative need, rather than specifically targeted to vulnerable populations.
Lastly, perhaps the most promising funding level in the President’s budget proposal (and the most likely to make it through Congress) is the $1.4 billion that the administration is proposing to provide for programs targeted to serve homeless veterans. At this funding level, programs that serve homeless veterans would be funded at a scale necessary to end homelessness among veterans by the end of this year.
If you’re curious about funding levels for other key programs, check out our FY 2016 Discretionary Homelessness Budget Chart and Budget Rundown. And please keep up with the Alliance’s advocacy updates. The FY 2016 federal appropriations process is just getting started, so you can expect that the Alliance’s advocacy team will be rolling out a number of advocacy opportunities. To get involved, check out our FY 2016 Homelessness Funding Campaign webpage, sign up for our Advocacy Update newsletter, or send an email to Policy Outreach Associate Julie Klein firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to join our Homelessness Funding Working Group.
There is quite a bit at stake this year. We have come a long way, but if we’re going to end homelessness, we will need to defend vital homeless programs from cuts that would reverse our progress. We’re going to need the help of advocates like you to ensure that the FY 2016 budget is not balanced on the backs of people experiencing homelessness.