Your community has submitted this year’s application for funding from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Continuum of Care (CoC) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). Since then, you’ve (maybe) caught up on sleep, and worked through some of the things that got put off. You’ve opened most of your missed emails, and are getting back to your normal pace of ending homelessness in your community.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Congress is slowly (but maybe surely) moving toward finalizing funding levels for HUD and other programs for the next application in 2020. You can use the work your community just did on the NOFA application to help inform that process.
Consider Your Community’s Needs
The CoC NOFA application process demands that each community accounts for its resources for the homeless response system to do its job: to find everyone who becomes homeless, keep them safe, and help them move quickly into housing. The availability of bonus funding encourages communities to envision what more they could accomplish with money
Use your CoC application to think through what your community could do with better funding.
- Did you find in your application that people are waiting a long time to access rapid re-housing? More money would help that a lot!
- Did your application show that there people on the streets with severe health problems, waiting for permanent supportive housing? More federal funding would mean more housing!
- Does your application show specific numbers that would support the need for more funding?
- As you completed your application, did you think of specific individuals or families in your community that want to help? Would your elected officials benefit from knowing their stories?
Share Those Needs with Congress
Take that vision, and use it to show your Senators and Representatives how this funding would improve your communities. The Alliance has online tools that you can use to craft an email. If you know people on the Hill, through local visits or participation in Capitol Hill Day, send them copies and follow up with phone calls.
The ask is simple: they should contact Appropriations leadership and ask them to include substantial increases in HUD’s Homeless Assistance account, with $3 billion as the recommended total.
Why It Matters Now
Some communities will receive enough funds through the competition to accomplish bigger and better things. But, even though homelessness funding has improved in recent years, Congress still doesn’t fund HUD’s programs sufficiently to do the job they’re supposed to do.
This is a good time to do something about that. In Congress, the House and Senate’s bills propose modest increases in homelessness funding. But the two are quite different and will need to be reconciled. The deadline to pass final bills has been pushed back to November 21. As that date approaches, there will be more pressure to cut deals and make final decisions.
We need one of those decisions to support a substantial increase for HUD’s homelessness programs. Everyone working to end homelessness can help, by telling your people in Congress what you could do to improve your community’s response if better funding was available.
We’re in a good place. Congress has heard repeatedly this year that homelessness is a severe problem for many communities. They’re also hearing that communities implementing a well-funded Housing First approach are getting good results, and that those results are helping with a range of problems like health care, education, and over-reliance on incarceration. Early in the year, unprecedented numbers of House and Senate members signed on to “Dear Colleague” letters calling for strong increases in homelessness spending. The Alliance’s Capitol Hill Day in July included Hill visits to most House and Senate offices to talk about homelessness. So far this year, people around the country have had more than 3,000 contacts with Congressional offices using the Alliance’s online advocacy tools.
Now it’s time to finish the job. As House and Senate negotiators work to finish spending bills for the year, there are still opportunities to further improve funding for homelessness programs. Use the Alliance’s tools and let them know.
Please let us know how we can help, and what kinds of responses you’re getting.