Ending Homelessness Today — Advocacy and Action Alerts
What Happened with Sequestration?
April 22, 2013
Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about the federal budget. We wrapped up fiscal year (FY) 2013 in mid-March with some good news for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants: the program received a post-sequestration increase! Shortly after, we released our State of Homelessness in America 2013, and the Administration released its FY 2014 Budget Proposal. In other words, it seems like we’ve moved past all the talk of the fiscal cliff and sequestration. But have we?
The President’s Budget Proposal had some great news for HUD – proposing increases to a variety of programs, including, once again, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. All the funding levels proposed by the President for all federal programs include an important caveat – they assume sequestration will be reversed. Well, OK, but where is that assumption coming from? Can we assume that sequestration was just a blip that’s probably going to go away?
The answer, of course, like so many other things related to federal policymaking lately, is that we don’t quite know. No one on either side of the aisle will argue that sequestration is good policy. Indiscriminate cuts to virtually all federal programs won’t make much of a dent in the federal deficit, and they will most certainly have a negative impact on the operation of many federal programs. But unfortunately, sequestration is a done deal. It went into effect on March 1 and while some programs haven’t yet felt the pinch of the 5 percent cut, they no doubt will, with many of those negative impacts being felt as the summer approaches.
Read More »
Homeless Assistance Grants Receive Funding INCREASE!
March 27, 2013
Last week, the House and Senate finalized a final fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bill for all federal discretionary spending. As we read through the list of anomalies (the handful of programs that received funding increases, as opposed to the vast majority of programs that received flat funding from FY 2012), we felt mixed emotions. We were relieved and excited to see an increase for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and beyond thrilled at the 33 percent increase homeless assistance programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs received. On the other hand, we were shocked and disappointed to see that following sequestration, many programs serving low-income populations would be taking a tremendous hit.
After a tumultuous (to say the least) year, well, 16 months, focusing on FY 2013 funding, here’s our assessment on the final funding levels and what they mean.
Read More »
Obama Proposes Strengthening Working Class (No Mention of Homelessness)
February 13, 2013
When you live inside the beltway of our nation’s capital, like nearly all of us here at the Alliance, there are a few big events where the political buzz in the town grows a little louder and your inner politico comes out to play. The elections are one, inaugurals another, and of course, the State of the Union Address. Last night, President Barack Obama delivered the 223rd annual State of the Union (his 5th) to a joint session of Congress. The SOTU is an opportunity for the President to use his “bully pulpit” and lay out the Administration’s agenda for the upcoming year.
Some of these agenda items were unsurprising: gun control, immigration, climate change, and the budget. As one of the policy team members at the Alliance, I was watching the Address for some obvious specifics – will the President talk about homelessness? Low-income people? Housing? We know from past analysis, that the President was unlikely to mention homelessness directly, but housing did get a brief mention (couched in terms of refinancing mortgages and making it easier for Americans to afford their own homes).
Read More »
Advocacy in 2013: A Look Ahead
January 03, 2013
Last year, I wrote a blog post about the 2012 outlook for homelessness policy and legislation. I described 2011 as a tumultuous year during which many challenges arose that would eventually shape our advocacy and policy work in 2012. Looking back, I’d have to say that 2012 indeed proved to be an enormously challenging but successful year for us (see my 2012 wrap-up for details).
These last few weeks, we’ve been inundated with news of action or, has more often been the case, inaction, dealing with the fiscal cliff and the details of the last-minute deal to avert it. Thanks to the deal Congress struck with the Administration, 2013 should be just as challenging for advocates, if not more so, as last year. That deal, which you can read more about here, kicked the can down the road two months on sequestration, which should give the newly minted 113th Congress time to do something about it, such as eliminating the measure, or reversing it and replacing it with a more balanced plan.
Read More »
OMB Report: sequestration would cut Homeless Assistance by $156 million
September 21, 2012
For some time now, we have been telling you about big federal budgetary issues, and how these issues could affect efforts to end homelessness. A recent report to Congress by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requested by Congress in the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, is a reminder of the impact these issues can have.
We’ve already told you about “sequestration,” the across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take effect in three and a half months under the Budget Control Act that Congress passed and the President signed into law in early 2011.
Now, a recent report to Congress by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has spelled out, for the first time, which programs in the federal budget will be exempt from sequestration, and how much funding each nonexempt program will lose in January.
According to the report, sequestration would cut the HUD Homeless Assistance line by $156 million, with HUD deciding how much of this cut would come from the Emergency Solutions Grants, and how much from the Continuum of Care. Either way, existing programs would need to be scaled back or shut down.
Read More »
Much ado about Data: Responses to the Individuals Ending Homelessness Survey
August 09, 2012
Today’s blog is from Jeni Gamble, the Alliance’s Director of Development and Communications.
As a new member of the Alliance team, and someone who is relatively new to the housing first movement, I wanted to get a better understanding of what advances advocates believe have had the greatest impact in our fight to end homelessness. Last month, I sent out a short survey to the 2012 Annual conference presenters and scholarship recipients, more than 200 individuals in total. The survey was designed to garner qualitative responses regarding the improvements and changes we are seeing in housing and homelessness, and to help us learn what these leaders in the field saw as being essential to our progress.
Like many of you, I entered this field somewhat by accident. I started in an emergency shelter in the late 1990s where I worked with domestic violence survivors and their families. Often a client would spend months in an emergency shelter before moving on to transitional housing, where she would stay for nearly a year, and only then, after months of appointments, applications and interviews, would she receive a voucher for housing assistance. Needless to say, Housing First was not the approach we used back then.
I am only beginning to review the 44 unduplicated responses and identify themes, but one thing is clear, the use of data in decision-making is one of the most significant advances in the field.
Read More »
McKinney Funding - Why an Increase is Really a Decrease
June 28, 2012
Yesterday, the House voted on the fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The bill provides $2.05 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants – a $104 million increase over the FY 2012 funding level. In this fiscal environment, this may seem like good news, but in reality, it creates a shortfall because of the fund distribution process. What this basically means for this funding cycle is that the increase would be insufficient to maintain the level of housing and services provided in 2012, and for 2013, approximately 25,000 people would be homeless instead of housed.
To really understand the funding implications, and how the distribution process works at the federal level, we need to delve a little deeper into what this funding level means.
Unfortunately, because of accounting issues, the approximately $100 million increase would actually mean less money for homeless assistance programs to spend. While it may be a bit confusing, this blog should help clear the air a bit on why, in FY 2013, what seems like more is actually less. Essentially, Congress is providing HUD with funding for housing and services up to several years before they are actually provided, and then once that cycle expires, it will cost more for HUD to continue the same level of spending on housing and services going forward. Thus, the proposed FY 2013 funding level won’t cover what is already in place.
How it works:
Some of HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) g... Read More »
An Increase for Vulnerable Young People
June 21, 2012
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee announced its funding levels for key programs serving low-income and homeless people within the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Education (yes, it’s quite a big bill!). To cut to the chase, many of the programs on which the Alliance works and on which people experiencing homelessness rely, including SAMHSA Homeless Services, Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs, Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH), and the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program, along with many other programs, would receive the same amount of funding in fiscal year (FY) 2013 under the Senate’s proposal as they do in FY 2012.
Many of these programs, - especially RHYA programs - have seen several years of flat funding in a row – despite increased need, despite a bad economy that continues to fare poorly month after month, and despite the program’s target population: our nation’s most vulnerable young people.
In recognition that flat funding is not enough, the Alliance has made RHYA and SAMHSA two of its top priorities for Capitol Hill Day this year. We are hoping to bring these two issues, and a handful of others, to the forefront of congressional offices’ minds and educate as many Members of Congress as possible on the importance of these key programs. We’ve got loads of materials to help participants prepare, and our State Captains are in the process of sett... Read More »
McKinney Funding at Risk!
June 07, 2012
Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) approved its funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013. The legislation provides funding for HUD programs, including McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, CDBG, HOME, and many other homeless and housing programs. As you may have already seen from our most recent Advocacy Update, out of the legislation comes some good news and some not-so-great news.
The bill includes increased or level funding for a variety of key programs, including increases for CDBG, HOME, Public Housing, and new money for HUD-VASH vouchers. Further details can be found in the House’s press release here. These funding levels are great news for HUD programs under a very difficult budget environment and will have an important impact in meeting the housing needs of many low-income individuals and families.
The legislation also includes $2 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, which is actually an increase of nearly $100 million over the FY 2012 level. This would ordinarily be fantastic, but by the Alliance’s estimates, due to the increasing cost of renewals, $2 billion actually wouldn’t be enough to funding all CoC renewals and maintain the existing level of Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) activities (rapid re-housing and prevention activities under the HEARTH Act). As a result, we anticipate that this funding level would result in more than 25,000 people being homeless instead of housed. In the current economic climate, this would of course ... Read More »
So, What’s Going on with Appropriations?
May 31, 2012
As regular readers of this blog know, we write fairly often about federal homelessness appropriations – what’s happening, how you can get involved, and what various proposals would mean for your daily work on the ground to prevent and end homelessness. But we haven’t written about appropriations (the federal funding process) in several weeks, so you may be wondering: what’s the latest news?
The House and Senate are both busy working on their fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bills. We have been tracking three particular bills very closely, so read on for more information on each of those funding measures!
HUD. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its FY 2013 bill to fund the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The full Senate has yet to vote on the legislation, though it may do so in the coming months. The Senate’s version included $2.146 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs – not as much as the $2.231 billion requested by the President, but still a $245 million increase over FY 2012!
The House has not yet released its FY 2013 HUD funding bill, though it is expected to do so shortly. (Sign up for our McKinney-Vento Campaign list or our Advocacy Updates for the latest details!)
VA. The Appropriations Committees in both the House and Senate have approved their FY 2013 funding bills for programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – including targeted homeless veteran programs. Both bills would provide the Administration’s requested 33 percent increase ... Read More »
Learning about Advocacy at our National Conference on Ending Homelessness
May 16, 2012
When our blog readers think of Washington, DC, they often think of politics (and politicians, of course), soaring monuments, and hopefully, the Alliance’s advocacy efforts. But in all seriousness, coming to our nation’s capital is a great opportunity to learn what’s happening with federal policy and to make an impact on it. We talked last week about how to participate in Capitol Hill Day, but our National Conference on Ending Homelessness also offers a great opportunity to learn more about federal policy and advocacy, including messaging and how-tos.
This year, we’ve got a great track of workshops for anyone who wants to better hone their advocacy skills, for seasoned advocates, for Capitol Hill Day participants, or for folks who are just curious. Here’s a basic overview of some of the great advocacy workshops we’re planning:
Building a Systems Change Movement: Engaging Local Leaders – This workshop will provide attendees with concrete examples and how tips for getting your local community leaders (elected officials or otherwise) to work together to support and affect positive systems change.
Impacting Policy: Making the Most of your Advocacy Meetings – Ideal for Capitol Hill Day participants, this workshop will cover the nitty-gritty of conducting a meeting with your Member of Congress or their staff. The lessons imparted will also translate to local and state policymakers or other key stakeholder meetings.
The Federal Budget: Update and Impact on Ending Homelessness – There have been many changes to ... Read More »
Join Us for Capitol Hill Day!
May 10, 2012
Capitol Hill Day is held every year in conjunction with the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness here in Washington, DC every July. It allows conference participants to take the opportunity to take advantage of their time in the nation’s capital to meet with their U.S. Senators and Representatives and their staff. Last year, participants attended nearly 270 meetings with congressional offices from 42 states! Face-to-face time with Members of Congress and their staff is one of the most important ways to take part in federal advocacy by educating Members and describing what’s happening on the ground back in their districts. These meetings are a critical component to your work in ending homelessness.
By participating in these meetings, you can work to build or establish relationships with the congressional offices, educate your Members on your progress in preventing and ending homelessness at home, and encourage them to support your work.
So how can you get involved? The first step is to register for our conference, if you haven’t already done so! Early registration closes on May 30, so register now to receive the best rates! For a closer look at what we’ll be covering at the conference, check out the website or our recent blogs. After registering for the conference, get in touch with your State Captain. State Captains take the lead in each state scheduling the meetings, coordinating participants, and ensuring the right policy priorities are covered in each... Read More »
May Congressional Briefings
May 03, 2012
The Alliance will be busy this month up on Capitol Hill with three different congressional briefings with which we’re involved. These briefings are intended to give Members of Congress and their staff details on key programs working to end homelessness as well as an overview of the solutions for certain subpopulations. Briefings are an opportunity to showcase successful programs for all Members of Congress as well as an opportunity for consumers to share the personal impact that programs funded by Congress have.
Here’s a summary of what we’ll be covering in our briefings this May:
Homeless LGBTQ Youth. A briefing on May 10 will cover LGBTQ youth homelessness and what we need to do to prevent and end homelessness for this vulnerable population. The briefing will feature Cyndi Lauper from the True Colors Fund, André Wade, Youth Policy Analyst here at the Alliance, Debbie Shore from Sasha Bruce Youthwork and others. The panel will be focused on the experiences of LGBTQ homeless youth, the FY 2013 RHYA appropriations ask, advocacy for the addition of a non-discrimination clause into RHYA, as well as the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act that was introduced last year by Senator John Kerry.
Rapid Re-Housing. A May 17 briefing, organized by the Alliance, will discuss the success of rapid re-housing in helping families transition quickly out of shelter and back into housing. The goal of the briefing is to impart the positive impact rapid re-housing is having ... Read More »
New Youth Count Media Map and Webpage
April 27, 2012
Do you know the number of homeless youth in your county or city? Communities across the nation have been conducting targeted youth counts, which the Alliance has gathered and placed on its new Youth Count media map and webpage to answer that question. The map will show you which communities have conducted counts, their results and a brief synopsis of the methodology used. Also, you’ll find a link to the full report to read in its entirety. We hope that this map will encourage your community to conduct a targeted youth count that can be used to inform policy and the scaling of interventions.
We also want to provide resources to communities to help them to either improve their counts or to conduct initial counts of homeless youth. Therefore, you will find resources on our new webpage such as webinars, briefs and a toolkit about counting youth.
There’s a lot more that needs to be done to be able to solve the issue of youth homelessness. What can you do? What can you encourage others to do?
What you can do:
Form a committee to find out how youth can be targeted during your community’s next Point-In-Time count.
Get involved in your community’s bi-annual Point-In-Time Counts as a youth advocate and/or provider.
If you are already counting youth, re-visit your methodology and practices to make room for improvements.
What the Administration can do:
The U.S. Depar... Read More »
Starting off with a Bang! Increases to Key Housing and Homelessness Programs
April 19, 2012
This morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to approve its fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bill for programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And the highlights are pretty exciting.
First and foremost, we at the Alliance were happy to see that the bill includes a $245 million increase to HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants – the largest one-year increase in nearly 20 years! According to our estimates, the McKinney-Vento funding level of $2.15 billion would fund all renewals and provide $286 million for the new Emergency Solutions Grant program. It’s still about $80 million less than the level proposed by the President, so we hope you’ll work with us to thank your senators but urge them to work throughout the rest of the annual funding process to provide the full increase requested by the President.
The draft legislation also includes funding increases or maintains flat funding for many critical affordable housing programs, including:
$19.4 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers, including $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers;
$9.6 billion to renew all Section 8 project-based contracts for a full 12 months;
$4.6 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund, an increase of $629 million from FY 2012;
$1 billion for HOME, which represents flat funding from FY 2012; and
$3.1 billion for the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), an increase of $152 million over FY 2012.
These proposed funding increases will go a long way toward keeping or placing many low-income families and individuals in affordable housing and preventing or ending their homeles... Read More »
How to Get a Member of Congress to Visit Your Program
April 12, 2012
Inviting your Member of Congress or other elected official to visit and tour your homeless assistance program can be one of the most impactful ways to interact with them and engage them in the movement to end homelessness. Site visits involve letting your representatives or senators see first-hand how your program operates and help them meet with staff and consumers, so that they can make the connection between your program working to end homelessness in their district, and the legislation they work on every day in Washington, DC.
So how and when can you conduct a site visit? This blog will give you a little more background, and your opportunity is coming soon! The House and Senate will be in recess, working back in the districts, from April 30 to May 4! With several federal funding bills expected to be released in the coming weeks, the May recess offers a perfect opportunity to explain the importance of increasing federal homelessness funding to better service people at risk of or experiencing homelessness in their districts.
Site visits can be quick tours, or more involved events including speakers and the media. Both are effective, and which type you plan depends on your Member’s availability and your goals for the site visit. Most importantly, you should pick one to two policy issues on which to focus. This will depend largely on your specific program and the types of federal funds you use. For example, do you... Read More »
Budget Resolutions: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?
March 22, 2012
As you may have seen, the House released a budget plan this week that shrinks the deficit, cuts taxes, and reduces spending on social programs. What you may not have realized, however, is how much this plan would affect the fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding process for key programs for homeless and at-risk people, including HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and homeless veteran programs.
This plan – officially called a “budget resolution” – is a regular and important part of the federal budget process. It is not law but sets out Congress’ budgetary plans for the year. The most important aspect of the budget resolution is that it lays out the overall amount of funding that will be available to the Appropriations Committee for its annual funding bills. This overall amount is then eventually split up among countless federal programs, including homeless assistance programs.
In theory, the House and Senate should agree on a budget resolution by April 15 of each year. This often does not happen, though. In fact, the Senate does not plan to pass a budget resolution at all this year, since last year’s big debt deal included an agreement about how much funding would be available to the Appropriations Committee this year.
However, the House still plans to pass a budget resolution this year – one that goes beyond last year’s agreement in cutting overall funding for the annual funding bills. The budget resolution releas... Read More »
And We’re Off! President Releases FY 2013 Budget Proposal
February 16, 2012
On Monday, the Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2013 Budget Proposal. This is the start of the Alliance’s advocacy season and we’re excited by some of the numbers! This year is a great time to start getting involved with advocating for homeless assistance programs – join us today!
If you’re wondering what the President’s Budget Proposal is – and why it’s important - you’re not alone. This big document is released every year by the Administration in early February . It officially kicks off the federal budget process for the upcoming fiscal year, which will start on October 1.
A couple of weeks ago, we discussed why this proposal matters. The President’s budget Proposal is not law. It’s meant to serve as a guide for Congress as it makes its own decisions about appropriations and the federal budget.
The President's FY 2013 Budget Proposal includes suggested funding levels for many key programs targeted toward low-income or homeless people. This year, we at the Alliance were really excited to see some impressive increases proposed to homeless assistance programs:
$2.23 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, a 17 percent increase over the FY 2012 level;
$1.35 billion for targeted homeless veteran programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a 33 percent increase over the FY 2012 level; and
$19.07 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, including $75 million for about 10,000 new HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers.
These increases of about $330 million to VA’s homelessness programs and HUD’s McKinney-Ven... Read More »
Looking ahead to 2012
December 29, 2011
2011 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. With everything from threats of a government shutdown in April, to major deficit reduction negotiations in August, to the failure of the Super-Committee in November, Congress was certainly able to hold our attention these last twelve months.
With elections and sequestration on the horizon, 2012 may be no different.
As a result, this next year will be challenging but it will also provide numerous opportunities to get involved and impact the legislative process. The Alliance’s advocacy team will be busy throughout the year keeping everyone informed with the latest news and opportunities to get involved, through reaching out to the media, meeting with your Members of Congress, conducting site visits, and more! Here’s a preview of what’s coming up for 2012:
Media Awareness Campaign. Shortly into the new year, the Alliance will be releasing a report, similar to The State of Homelessness in America in 2011, and we want to make sure it has as big a media impact as possible. On January 12, we will be hosting a webinar to explain why this report matters to your community and how you can use its data to educate local decisionmakers and the public about the problem of homelessness in your community. For more information on this upcoming event, please click here.
Capitol Hill Day. Every year, the Alliance hosts a Capitol Hill Day (CHD) in conjunction... Read More »
Congress Finishes Appropriations
December 22, 2011
All year, we’ve been talking on this blog about congressional appropriations. In April, Congress passed its fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations bill, more than five months into the fiscal year. FY 2012 officially started on October 1, and Congress finalized FY 2012 funding for several departments, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in November. But what about the other government agencies?
Last weekend, Congress passed legislation to finalize all remaining FY 2012 appropriations bills. This included funding for programs within the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, Education, and Veterans Affairs (VA), among many others. The bill includes:
• $115 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs;
• $75 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) homeless services programs;
• $65 million for the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program;
• $137 million for Health Care for the Homeless Centers;
• $65 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program; and
• $38 million for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP), a slight increase over FY 2011.
When we look at both this bill and the one passed in November, we can see that funding for most targeted homeless assistance programs was held flat compared to FY 2011, despite deep cuts to many other federal programs. One notable exception to this was the joint HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which actually received increased resources in FY 2012.
All of this tells us that funding for targeted homeless assistance programs was generally protected or even expanded, eve... Read More »