Alliance Legislative Report (updated on July 28)

Impact

The Alliance continues to work to secure more resources for local homelessness systems through the FY23 appropriations process.

The Alliance is pleased that both the Administration, the House, and the Senate are calling for significant new investments in homelessness funding and housing vouchers, and the Alliance strongly urges lawmakers to support FY23 funding for Homelessness Assistance Grants (HAG) at $3.6 billion and Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) at $32.1 billion.[i]

Of course, the annual appropriations process is far from over, so the Alliance strongly urges lawmakers to support a House-Senate budget agreement that provides the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill with the highest possible allocation.  Absent a robust allocation, funding levels for these two vital programs could be significantly reduced before the FY23 appropriations process concludes. 

Vouchers are currently available to only one-quarter of eligible households. However, few items have increased in cost recently more than rent, threatening the housing stability of millions of low-income households.   Over the past 12 months, rent prices have spiked by a staggering 14.1 percent nationally.  Rents increased last month in 97 of the 100 largest U.S. cities.  Rent for studio apartments, as well as one bedroom and two bedroom units all increased by double digits over the past year, and the rental share of income was over 30% in 14 of the top 50 cities.  Increases in rents both increase the cost of the TBRA program and increase the number of households who need vouchers.  Therefore, the Alliance strongly urges lawmakers to ensure that TBRA is funded at no less than $32.1 billion. 

COVID prevented a full point in time count from being conducted in 2021, but there is reason to believe homelessness has increased because of the pandemic. Worse, there are more individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness–living on the streets, in cars or other uninhabitable places—than there are individuals experiencing sheltered homelessness.  

People who are unsheltered have much more serious health problems than people living in shelter.  One-half of unsheltered people are tri-morbid, with physical, mental and substance use illnesses, while only 2 percent of sheltered adults are tri-morbid.  And many of these unsheltered people did not become homeless because of tri-morbidity, but the reverse–they became seriously ill because they were unsheltered.  A study earlier this year by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found that homeless people are 35 times as likely as the general population to die of a drug or alcohol overdose. They are also four times as likely to die of heart disease, 16 times as likely to die in a car crash, 14 times as likely to be murdered and eight times as likely to die of suicide.  Getting people experiencing unsheltered homelessness housed is a matter of life or death.  That’s why the Alliance is fighting for $3.6 billion in FY23 HAG funding.   

Clearly, federal resources can reduce homelessness.  As the President’s FY23 Budget reminds us, “The increase (in homelessness) is a result of the rising cost of housing and the lack of assistance provided to segments of the homeless population. For veterans and families experiencing homelessness, investments in permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing have helped reduce homelessness, even as housing costs in most of the country for low-income people have risen dramatically. In partnership, HUD and VA have invested significant resources, including HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH), to reduce veteran homelessness, which has led to a decline of veteran’s homelessness by half since 2011. A similar decline (32 percent) has occurred for families with children experiencing homelessness. On average, much less assistance is provided to individuals who are not veterans or accompanied by children. As a result, rising numbers are experiencing homelessness and particularly unsheltered homelessness.”  

It’s important for people who follow homelessness closely to remain engaged in the process to ensure that the Administration’s request of $3.6B ultimately prevails.  Please urge your lawmakers in the House and Senate to support the Administration’s request for $3.6 billion in funding for homelessness programs in FY23.  

Thanks for your consideration.  Please don’t hesitate to contact the Alliance’s John Threlkeld (jthrelkeld@naeh.org) if you have any questions. 

 

[i] While the Administration would increase HAG funding by $363 million, the House would boost the homelessness budget by $391 million, which would leave the program with $3.6 billion in FY23.  Although the House would boost TBRA by $3.7 billion, the Administration proposed an increase of $4.8 billion, which would provide the voucher program with $32.1 billion next year.  The Senate version of the legislation would fund HAG at $3.5 billion and TBRA at $30.2 billion.  

 

 

Summary

Please let the Alliance’s John Threlkeld (jthrelkeld@naeh.org) know if you have any questions about legislation. 

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