Now that topline federal spending levels have been increased, your voice as a homeless advocate is as important as ever.
Here’s where we’re at in the federal funding process.
On Monday, Nov. 2, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law, making $33 billion available for nondefense discretionary programs in fiscal year (FY) 2016. This funding has already been divided among the appropriations subcommittees, but the allocations have yet to be made public. Right now, committee staff are hard at work negotiating competing demands to produce a final bill to set spending levels for federal programs.
So why is your voice important? In light of the recent budget deal, this is the biggest opportunity for Congress to fight homelessness since the HEARTH Act passed six years ago! A $345 million increase for Homeless Assistance Grants represents only 1 percent of the $33 billion newly available in FY 2016. This 1 percent would provide enough funding to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2017.
Congress has until Dec. 11 to finish the spending bill, but many decisions on the details will be made much earlier. This week is the best time to make an impact in the process!
What can you do? Call your members of Congress today and tomorrow by dialing the Congressional switchboard at 877-210-5351 and follow up in the weeks to come! You can also write a letter. We’ve made that easy for you with these letter templates. It’s crucial that homeless advocates unify on this message and beat the drum as loud and for as long as it takes for Congress to pass a final omnibus bill.
What should you tell Congress? Here are three key messages that we at the Alliance believe Congress should hear from advocates while they are negotiating the final FY 2016 funding bill for homelessness and housing programs. (You can find the full talking points here).
- Provide $2.480 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program, including $40 million for homeless youth initiatives.
- Provide $18.05 billion to renew all Housing Choice Vouchers in use at the end of 2015 and $470 million to restore the remaining 60,000 vouchers lost due to sequestration.
- Do not raid the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) to fund other programs.
On a given night 578,424 people in this country experience homelessness, including veterans, families, and children. This is our chance to convince Congress to put the resources on the table to end chronic homelessness by 2017 and make progress on ending family and youth homelessness by 2020. All you have to do is pick up a phone or send a letter.
Will you lend your voice to their cause?