Housing is health care. Housing is racial justice. Housing is education. Housing is safety. Housing is children’s wellbeing. Housing is relief from climate change. Housing is healthy food. Housing is recovery from mental illness and addiction. Housing is respect. Housing is equity.
This is a week when people who care about housing – because of the beneficial effects it has for people in all walks of life – are letting Congress know that housing is important and that they need to fund it more adequately. The Alliance has sent a request out to members of our grassroots network, providing some helpful tools for educating members of Congress about the opportunities coming up.
How Congress Can Help
One opportunity is the Build Back Better legislation, a proposal by President Biden for another major spending bill. Build Back Better aims to help the country recover from the recession and the pandemic while addressing some longstanding problems, including the fact that so many Americans can’t afford a safe place to live. The Alliance joined with other like-minded organizations around the country to request that the bill include $105 billion for housing programs that are most closely targeted to people with the lowest incomes: housing vouchers, the National Housing Trust Fund, and public housing. These measures were included in a bill that passed the House of Representatives. It is stalled in the Senate, but the President and many others are pushing to get some version passed in the near future. Whether any bill will pass, and whether our housing agenda will be included, depends on how many Members of Congress understand how important it is.
Congress will almost certainly pass a regular spending package for Fiscal Year 2022. A temporary measure is in place to keep the government running, but will expire on February 18. Congressional leaders are working to pass a final package by then. The Alliance’s priorities for HUD spending are for the Homeless Assistance account, which funds the Continuum of Care and Emergency Solutions Grants as well as some smaller items; and the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance account, which funds the Housing Choice Voucher program. So far, the House bill is closer to the President’s requests, but there’s pressure to reduce that. Again, Representatives and Senators need to understand what these programs do to improve their communities, and how important they are to constituents.
If you haven’t already signed up for the Alliance’s Advocacy Alerts, you can do that here. To see the latest alert, with tools for letting your Representative and Senators know how important it is, please check the page on our website. And if you want to get more involved in advocacy, please email the Alliance’s National Field Director, Jerry Jones, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s make this happen!