This year is the best opportunity we’ve had in a long time to significantly improve our capacity to get homeless people into housing. Any organization can help by signing on to this nationwide letter of support. Yes, it’s the same letter we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks. If you haven’t signed you have until Wednesday and that’s it!
The House Appropriations committee has put together a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spending bill that would include the biggest increase for homeless assistance in 20 years. But a House committee bill is not law. To get this passed by the entire Congress, there will need to be a strong positive response by everyone who cares about ending homelessness.
Where did this bill come from?
It’s worth spending a moment looking back at how this House bill came about. For several years, the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds HUD has called on the department to make homelessness programs more effective. While HUD has implemented the HEARTH Act, with more focus on results, the subcommittee has kept the pressure on to go further.
Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), chairman of the subcommittee, and David Price (D-NC), ranking member, have stuck together on this, for the sake of homeless people, particularly during the recently completed 2015 NOFA process. Days after HUD announced the 2015 awards, they released their bill with a $237 million increase in funding focused on results. That is enough money to get 40,000 more people from homelessness into housing.
What you can do
The next step for us is to send this letter to the House and Senate Appropriators, calling for at least this $237 increase for homeless assistance in the final legislation. (The Senate bill included a smaller increase of $80 million.) The letter also supports the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
As of late Friday, more than 50 national organizations and over 300 state and local organizations had signed the letter, so your organization will be in good company. Our deadline is Wednesday, in order to deliver it to the Hill before Congress breaks for the conventions and the August recess.
I’ll have more next week about what we’ll be doing the rest of the year to seize this opportunity, but the first thing is to get as many voices as possible behind this letter. Don’t be left out! Have questions? Let us know.