Homeless services providers are still working tirelessly, day in and day out, to serve people experiencing homelessness during COVID-19. Communities are doing the absolute best work they can, even with limited resources and an uncertain future. But inaction from Congress threatens to make this crisis worse by not planning to include any funds for homelessness or housing in the upcoming stimulus bill.
The Alliance, along with several other national partners, has sent a letter to the Senate leaders in charge of funding homelessness programs, imploring them to include this necessary funding: $11.5 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance account. These funds will help communities address the grave danger that people face from the intersecting crises of the COVID19 pandemic and homelessness.
The letter illustrates this dire need:
“The organizations represented in this letter share the understanding that people who experience homelessness are at high risk of contracting this disease and experiencing its worst outcomes, including long hospitalization and death. We are deeply concerned that the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness did not take the severity of this situation into account in its recently released report on coronavirus, because our information both from the field and from research experts indicates that this continues to be a dangerous situation in communities across the country that is not nearly resolved. Expert research indicates that people who are homeless will be twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require critical care, and two to three times as likely to die as the general population as a result of the pandemic.
“The CARES Act included $4 billion for these purposes. We are grateful for this initial funding, which has now been allocated by HUD and is being used. But it is clearly not enough. The $11.5 billion included in the House’s HEROES Act closes the gap between what has already been appropriated and our careful estimate of needs. As case numbers and deaths grow around the country, we regard it as essential that Congress include this funding.”
Meanwhile, four former Executive Directors of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness have joined the chorus in a formal letter to Congressional leadership expressing the urgent need for these funds to protect people experiencing and at risk of homelessness.
Congress must take action.
It is unconscionable that the next stimulus bill could pass without the appropriate investment in homelessness or housing funds in it. Providers can only scale important efforts to serve people experience homelessness with these resources. Without them, the effects will be devastating.
Pressuring Congress and making our needs known is the best way to secure this funding. Continue to advocate – not just once, but multiple times. Elected officials need to know how critical this funding is, and you are the most important people who can send this message. Providers, advocates, local systems leaders, and especially people with lived experience of homelessness can make this appeal to their lawmakers more powerfully than anyone else can. The Alliance’s online action tools make it quick and easy to send a letter to your officials.
People’s lives are counting on it.