Thanks to Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and David Price (D-NC), there is a big opportunity this year to secure better funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) homeless programs. Members of both parties are getting it: the problem of homelessness is severe and threatening to get worse. However, because of great work by people in the field, when Congress invests in homeless programs, good things happen.
The House Appropriations Committee approved their bill, which puts a substantial increase in funding on the table, the largest in 20 years. This would be enough to move 40,000 additional people from homelessness to housing.
A House Committee bill, however, is not a final deal. In order to get other House members to stand behind this increase and to get Senators on board, people who care about ending homelessness will need to keep up a steady drumbeat of communication with their Representatives and Senators, from now until a final bill passes, which could be any time from mid-September through next March. Fortunately, such a drumbeat is something this community has proven to be good at creating.
More than 700 of you started this drumbeat when you signed on to our letter to Congress over the last few weeks. Here are the big things that will be happening in this year's campaign that can help continue the momentum:
Capitol Hill Day – If you are attending our conference next week, take advantage of being in D.C. to meet with your Senators’ and Representatives’ offices. Building personal relationships with these staffers is important to good partnerships.
Program visits in August/early Sept. – August is a perfect time to invite Members of Congress to visit program sites, as they are in recess through Labor Day. Visits allow Members to see how federal money used, hear from clients, board members, and others about how effective the programs are, and see first-hand the impact additional funding would have. If a site visit isn't doable, Members often are accessible at their district/state offices.
Make Room Campaign – A major national campaign to raise awareness of the negative impacts of the lack of affordable rental housing will roll out on Sept. 1 and last until the election on Nov. 8. There will be more on this soon, but the campaign will fit in with the Alliance's specific asks of Congress this year and securing a more expansive affordable housing agenda in the next Administration.
Letter writing, call-in day – Once the election is over, we will reorganize based on the likely timeline for the rest of the appropriations process. To get the best possible result we'll likely start a letter-writing campaign to keep the drumbeat going, and a call-in day when decisions are about to be made.
The people who represent you need to hear about the good work that you are doing. Your stories of success have a huge impact, as we've learned over long years. I'm happy to say this is something the homeless services community is known for among advocates in Washington. The Alliance can help in all kinds of ways. 40,000 homeless people need us to make this happen.