Now that Congress has returned from August recess, the Alliance and our partners are gearing up for a big advocacy push with National Call-In Days. This week, we’re pushing for advocates to urge their members of Congress to prioritize funding for programs that will end homelessness.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, and Wednesday, Sept. 16, participating advocates from across the country will call their members of Congress to deliver a unified message: raise federal sequester spending caps and fully fund affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs in FY 2016. The Alliance is coordinating these call-in days with Caps Hurt Communities, an advocacy campaign committed to ending the federal sequester spending caps.
Prior to the recess, Congress did some work on federal funding, but no funding bills made it through either chamber. That means that both the House and Senate still have a great deal of negotiation ahead of them in the coming months to wrap up this appropriations cycle.
Check this out for an update on where homeless programs stand in the budget process. Here’s a quick look at what Congress has accomplished in June before the recess:
- The full House voted to provide $2.185 billion for McKinney in FY 2016. This funding level would represent a $50 million increase over last year, but $295 million less than the funding level in the President’s budget proposal.
- The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to provide $2.235 billion for the program, including $40 million for initiatives to end youth homelessness, including demonstration projects, technical assistance, and a study on the prevalence and needs of homeless youth. This funding level would represent a $100 million increase over last year, but $245 million less than the President’s request.
In the coming weeks, we anticipate that Congress will negotiate an FY 2016 Continuing Resolution (CR), a stopgap funding measure that would keep the government running beyond the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, that will give them additional time to negotiate a budget deal.
During this time, a wide variety of interests will be vying for their attention. That’s why it’s so important that members of Congress hear about the importance of lifting the sequester caps and fully funding housing and homelessness assistance programs. We particularly want to make sure that the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program isn’t lost in the shuffle this fall.
And your role is simple. All you have to do to take part in this national effort is call your Senators and Representatives Tuesday and Wednesday (September 15 and 16) by dialing the Congressional switchboard at 877-210-5351.
Tell the staffers taking calls in your members’ offices how important affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs are to your community. Here’s the simple message: “It is time to pass a housing budget that works for our communities. Please raise the sequester caps and fully fund affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs.”
Spread the message that the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program must receive a $345 million funding increase in FY 2016.
The more members of Congress hear from their constituents about the need to lift sequester caps, the more likely they will be to act. That’s why we’re challenging you to share National Call-in Days with your colleagues, partner organizations, and perhaps a few family members or friends – anyone you think might be willing to make a quick call or two.
Please join in on this national effort to blitz congressional offices with calls Tuesday and Wednesday (September 15 and 16)! You can find more information about the federal sequester caps here and specific FY 2016 McKinney talking points here.