Last call! Congress if finalizing FY17 funding bills. How will homelessness assistance fare?

It looks like the Appropriations Committees have a green light to put together a final omnibus spending bill for FY2017. That means that House and Senate staffers are meeting, probably right now, to iron out differences between their bills and take the latest spending data into account. We need you to call their offices today.

What does this all mean? The next few days will be our last and best chance to impact funding levels for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) homelessness programs. This year’s budget provides a legitimate opportunity to secure new funding because Republicans and Democrats in Congress have a rising regard for the work people are doing on homelessness all over the country. More funding means an increased capacity to house more people.

We need you to take action. Here are a few things you can do that will have an impact.

Call your Congressional offices today.

Tell them how important these resources are in your community. Ask them to contact the Appropriations Committee one more time and say that they want the final bill to include increased funding for Homeless Assistance. Use these tools.

Make a personal contact during the upcoming recess

Representatives and Senators will be back home from April 7 through April 24. While the preliminary decisions will probably be made by then, the bills will not be final and changes are possible, so we’ll need to keep advocating until the final vote.

Also, a much tougher fight looms over FY 2018 funding. You’ll be off to a good start if your Members know you, and know that homelessness is an important issue in your community. Get together with others (the Mayor, business and faith leaders, law enforcement for example) and reach out to schedule a site visit during the April recess. Use our Site Visit toolkit.

If you aren’t able to get your Members to visit your program, get a contingent together for an in-district meeting at the Member’s local office. At the very least, if the Member is having any kind of community open forum, attend, get up to the microphone and make the pitch.

This is a bipartisan issue

People often ask if it’s important to do this outreach to Democrats as well as Republicans. For this issue and at this point in the process, the answer is absolutely yes! These spending bills are put together through a bipartisan process, and members of both parties have a say. At the same time, especially at the very end, putting the bills together involves tough choices between many valid priorities. If you think funding to help house people who are homeless is a top priority, the let your people in Congress know that they should too.

Please be in touch if you learn any useful information from your conversations.