Policy Priorities

Each year, the Alliance develops a set of core policy priorities to guide our work. The Alliance works with policymakers to advocate for increased funding for homeless assistance programs to cover housing and supportive services, and other legislation that will impact people experiencing homelessness and those that work with them.

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Funding for Homeless Assistance Programs

Each year, Congress passes a budget to fund federal programs, including for housing and homelessness. The largest federal investment in ending homelessness is called the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. McKinney-Vento funds two programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): the competitive Continuum of Care (CoC) program and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) formula grant program.

The Alliance is urging Congress to provide at least $2.8 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 funding for the Homeless Assistance Grants. This would represent an additional $287 million over FY 2018 appropriations and would serve an estimated 25,000 new families.

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For a more detailed breakdown of the funding levels for programs important to ending homelessness, see our updated budget chart below.

National Alliance to End Homelessness Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Federal Homeless Programs Budget Chart (in Millions), Updated June 14, 2018

HUD Programs Enacted FY2018 Administration Proposed             FY 2019 House Proposed FY 2019 Senate Proposed FY 2019
Homeless Assistance Grants $2,513 $2,383 $2,571 $2,612
  Rapid Re-Housing to Target Unsheltered Homelessness n/a n/a 40 n/a
  Rapid Re-Housing for Youth Demonstrations 80 n/a 0 +80
  Rapid Re-Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence 50 n/a 50 50
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) 3.60 0 3.60 3.60
HUD-VA Supportive Housing Program Vouchers 715 675 755 781
Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (Section 8 Vouchers) 22,015 18,700 22,477 22,781
Project-Based Rental Assistance 11,515 10,900 11,747 11,747
Community Development Block Grant Program 3,300 0 3,300 3,300
*Targeted funding within the grant programs indicated in italics

Affordable Housing

While a number of factors may contribute to an individual’s homelessness, a nationwide affordable housing crisis has been the key driver of systemic increases in homelessness since the 1980s. This crisis has grown from the following challenges:

  • The loss of affordable housing stock and increase in foreclosures across the country
  • Wages and public assistance that have not kept pace with rising rents, and the rising number of households paying more than half their income for rent
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The homeless assistance system alone cannot address this critical shortage of affordable housing for people who live in poverty. Greater investments are needed to significantly increase the supply of affordable housing for those with the lowest incomes. Families with children or adults with disabilities who are living far below the federal poverty level are often the hardest hit. Congress should provide more support and funding for affordable rental housing. There are a number of ways that Congress can empower HUD to better serve and house low-income individuals — including increased investment in the National Housing Trust Fund. We also urge Congress to provide $22.8 billion for Tenant-Based “Section 8” Rental Assistance in FY 2019.

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) is the only agency at the federal level with the sole responsibility of ending homelessness. It works across 19 federal agencies and departments and works with partners in the public and private sectors to improve the outcomes of federal spending on homelessness.

Because the original legislation to establish USICH only included short-term funding, maintenance of USICH becomes a political battle every year. While USICH’s budget is only a modest $3.6 million, the agency is responsible for coordinating approximately $5.5 billion in federal homeless services funding.

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It is essential that both chambers of Congress pass legislation to permanently authorize USICH. Currently, the House and Senate have introduced companion bills to accomplish this:
  • The House has introduced H.R. 5393, The Working Together to End Homelessness Act of 2018, to Committee. The Alliance urges Congress to move this bill through Committee and schedule a vote in the House.
  • The Senate companion bill is S. 743, A Bill to Strengthen the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and should follow a similar process in the Senate.
  • Once either of these bills is passed, it should be taken up for approval by the other chamber and sent to the president for signature and implementation