As part of the FY 2017 McKinney Campaign, the Alliance is launching a Fall 2016 Local Member Engagement Campaign to encourage advocates across the country to engage with their Members of Congress while they are home for the election season. The Campaign aims to:
- Raise awareness among the public and Congress about the issue of and solutions to homelessness;
- Educate Congress on the need for increased resources for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and ensure that it provides at least $2.487 billion for this program in its final FY 2017 spending bill
- Ask Members to commit to communicate the message that “providing at least $2.487 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in FY 2017 is a high priority” to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and congressional leadership.
How to engage Members of Congress this Election Season
- Host A Member for a Site Visit
Hosting a Member of Congress for a site visit of your McKinney-funded program is THE most impactful thing you can do while they are home in their district or state to engage them in the effort to end homelessness. The Alliance has many materials to help you plan and execute your site visit. View our Toolkit for Using Advocacy to End Homelessness to find materials related to site visits.
- Conduct In-District Congressional Meetings
If your Member does not have time in their schedule to attend a site visit, or if you do not have the capacity to plan one, the next best thing you can do to engage your Members this fall is to conduct in-district (or state) congressional meetings. Check out our Toolkit for Using Advocacy to End Homelessness for more information about in-district meetings.
- Raise the Issue of Homelessness at a Public Campaign Event
Another way you can engage your Members during this election season is by raising the issue of homelessness at a public campaign event! When running for election or re-election, Members of Congress typically host many public events in their districts or states in order to show constituents where they stand on various policy issues. There are a variety of formats for such events, ranging from town hall meetings or informal neighborhood gatherings organized by an individual campaign, to candidate forums or debates that include multiple candidates.Public campaign events provide a great opportunity to engage your Member(s) of Congress while they are home in your district or state. They allow you to put the issue of homelessness on their radars by sharing your concerns. Unlike most other advocacy opportunities, these events also provide a great platform for getting Members to publicly commit to doing something to help end homelessness.
How to Engage Members at Public Events This Election Season
- Call your members’ campaign offices. Search for the campaign websites of Members who are running for re-election in your district or state. a. Call the general number listed on each campaign website, and ask who you can speak to in order to learn more about upcoming campaign events in your area.
- Spread the word. Let your colleagues and networks know the locations and times of these events, and ask them to join you in order to show that a large number of constituents care about this issue.
- At the event, raise the issue of homelessness. Briefly provide some context on the nature and extent of homelessness in your district or state, and explain the importance of local homeless assistance programs funded by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program.Explain that in order to replicate the progress we have made ending veteran homelessness with families and other populations, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program will need at least a $237 million increase (to $2.487 billion, the level in the House T-HUD bill) in the final FY 2017 funding legislation, which may be finalized in December. Say this would allow us to house 40,000 more people than this year.
- THEN ASK THIS QUESTION: “In order to end homelessness, will you communicate the message that ‘providing at least $2.487 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in FY 2017 is a high priority’ to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and to congressional leadership?”*The above question is THE most timely and important question you can ask – if you can only say one thing, this should be it! Try to get Members to publicly commit to working with their colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to ensure that this funding level for McKinney is a top priority when FY 2017 funding legislation is finalized.
- Ask Other Questions. See a couple of examples below.Permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing have proven to be effective, cost efficient solutions to homelessness. What is your plan to ensure that enough units are funded?If given the opportunity, will you circulate or sign on to Dear Colleague letters in support of increased funding for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in future fiscal years?
We are happy to work with you every step of the way to help you customize these materials, strategize about which Members of Congress to engage, and with anything else for which you may need assistance. Please contact Julie Klein or Jaime Colman to get involved!