While most of the recent attention on the Hill has been on the tax bill — legislation that could have all kinds of negative impacts on housing — the Alliance remains focused on how HUD’s homelessness programs will be funded in the budget.
This has been a priority all year. We want everyone to know what Congress is most likely to do, and what opportunities advocates will have to help.
Right now, a temporary spending bill is in place until December 22.
Because of the focus on the tax bill, the only thing that will probably happen by December 22 is that deadline will be extended further, into January. By then, leaders hope to agree on an overall spending amount, including increases in areas where there is support for more spending. This will be a key time to reinforce to Congress that HUD programs are critically important.
Then, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will try to agree on a final “omnibus” spending bill. This will fund discretionary programs through the end of the fiscal year (September, 2018). The final omnibus will probably be voted on sometime between mid-January and early February.
That’s a lot of “probablies.”
To deal with this uncertainty about timing, we’ll need to keep a constant drumbeat: Congress needs to step up and do its part by increasing capacity of HUD’s homelessness programs. Homelessness is hurting our communities, and HUD’s programs are crucial. The entire community is behind this work, so it needs to be part of the conversation now, while leaders are considering the appropriate level of spending overall, and how much goes to HUD.
There are other things in the HUD spending bill that are important. Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (aka the Housing Choice Voucher program, or tenant-based Section 8) will need a substantial increase, and we must protect contributions to the National Housing Trust Fund.
However, we remain focused on Homeless Assistance programs, because that’s where your advocacy can have the biggest impact. This fight is coming to a climax over the next few weeks, and we will need your voice. If you haven’t already signed up to receive our Advocacy Updates, please do so now. You can sign up here.
We know how to help America’s most vulnerable citizens, and that includes telling Congress to do their part.