Alliance Legislative Report (April 3)




We have until April 4 to get Senators to sign on to the annual letter to support robust homelessness funding.  And remember: in this case, more is better because the more Senators that sign on to the letter organized by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). the more support will be attributed to our efforts to generate more robust homelessness funding. 

Deadline: April 4.  Reed staffer: Max_Cavas@Reed.Senate.Gov

Here is the letter:

Dear Chair Schatz and Ranking Member Hyde-Smith:

As you develop the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, we urge your continued support for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) homeless assistance programs.  Specifically, we urge you to provide 1) at least $3.8 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG), including at least $330 million for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) programs, 2) at least $32.703 billion for Tenant-Based “Section 8” Rental Assistance (TBRA), and 3) consistent funding for HUD’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH).

The COVID-19 pandemic ignited a housing market frenzy that dramatically increased housing costs in 2021 and 2022.  Unsurprisingly, higher housing prices have led to a rise in the number of unhoused Americans.  According to HUD’s 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness has increased in the majority of states since 2020.  Moreover, on a single night in 2022, over 22,500 more people were experiencing sheltered homelessness than in 2021.  It is crucial that we take proactive measures to address the recent surge in homelessness and better prevent more Americans from becoming unhoused.

Robust funding for HAG and TBRA must be a priority to ensure that all individuals and families who are at risk of homelessness are able to weather increased costs without losing their homes.  Connecting people back to a home as quickly as possible with essential wraparound services is the best way to put them on a path to permanent housing.  Ensuring “Housing First,” a concept first adopted by the George W. Bush Administration, helps communities avoid costs associated with homelessness, including law enforcement, emergency health care, and corrections costs.  We must also ensure service providers have the funding they need to hire and retain experienced staff and execute effective homelessness assistance strategies.  By robustly funding the fight against homelessness, Congress would also help address the disproportionate impact of homelessness on minorities as a result of racial discrimination. 

We must also maintain our long-standing investment in HUD-VASH, which assists veterans who are homeless and their families in finding and sustaining permanent housing.  Unfortunately, veterans, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, continue to be at high risk of homelessness due to their elevated incidence of mental and physical injuries.  We must do all that we can to ensure that those who have bravely served our country do not then find themselves without a home.

Thank you for your consideration of these requests and we look forward to working with you on the FY 2024 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.




And here is rhetoric you should feel free to use or lose in obtaining your Senator’s signature:

The National Alliance to End Homelessness urges your Senator to sign on to the bipartisan letter organized by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) -WI) and Bacon (R-NE) to the House Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee to increase funding for Homeless Assistance Grants in FY24.  Increased homelessness resources achieve results.  Homelessness among people in families with children is down by 6.1%, unaccompanied youth homelessness is down by 12%, and veteran homelessness is down by 11.1%.  Why?  Because those are the categories where the federal government is focusing resources.  HUD pledged to house 100,000 homeless people in 15 months—and it did.  VA promised to house 40,000 homeless veterans in one year—and it did.  Resources and leadership equal reductions in homelessness. 

We appreciate the Administration’s proposal to increase that amount by $116 million, which would cover the increased cost of renewals and continue to fund important priorities like programs for youth and survivors of domestic violence.  However, the sign-on letter asks for an increase of $200 million to address several pressing needs.  The additional $84 million could be used to pay for

  1. critical support services to chronically homeless people with behavioral health needs;

Chronic homelessness increased by more than 15% since the last count in 2020.  People experiencing chronic homelessness have been outside for far too long and suffer from one or more morbidities (a physical ailment, mental illness, or substance use); they have acute needs and are costly to their communities, and they need to be safely and securely housed, which requires services for rental navigation, case management, and health care.

      2. investments to address unsheltered homelessness;

Slightly over half of all people who experienced homelessness as individuals are staying in unsheltered locations, 51 percent or 216,495 people.  Unsheltered homelessness increased by 3.4% since the last count. 

          3. additional Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) funding to help communities maintain shelter resources and rapid re-housing efforts            established with soon-to-expire, one-time CARES Act COVID ESG; and

There is a valuable precedent for such an increase.  To aid in the recovery from the Great Recession, communities were provided with significant ESG funding pursuant to the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program.  Congress, understanding that vital local efforts would otherwise be undercut, increased the annual amount of ESG from $160 million in 2010 to no less than $250 million in all of the following years (except for 2013). 

        4. a modest cost of living increase for front-line homelessness services staff.

It is imperative that compensation for front-line homelessness services workers be made more competitive.  At a March 8 Senate Banking subcommittee hearing, the HUD witness said it was “critical” for this problem to be addressed and suggested increasing CoC funding so as not to reduce services but still increase staff compensation.  At the same hearing, the US Interagency Council on Homelessness witness said the homeless services workforce is in a “crisis” and that providers were experiencing 50% turnover before COVID.

The non-profit services providers, on which local homelessness systems depend, are struggling to compete for workers, especially given the stress from working in homeless services—and this is having an adverse impact on the provision of services.  Homeless programs consist of rents (rental assistance, leasing, and operating) and supportive services, and the biggest cost of supportive services are the salaries of employees who provide those critical supportive services.  Rents are adjusted for increases in fair market rents, but supportive services (which include coordinated entry costs as well as supportive service costs in other housing grants) are not.  The cost of supportive services should be adjusted annually, as is done already for rents.

Thanks for your consideration. 

Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Sincerely, John Threlkeld, National Alliance to End Homelessness, (202) 255-6215


Please let the Alliance’s John Threlkeld ( know if you have any questions about legislation. 

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