Ending Homelessness Today — MicKinney-Vento
Send a Letter to Your Member of Congress TODAY!
June 13, 2013
Largely due to sequestration, the overall spending caps for appropriations subcommittees are much lower than they have been in previous years, especially in the House. In other words, there is less money than usual to spread around among different transportation and housing programs, which leaves funding for homeless assistance programs in a precarious place.
Therefore, it is important that advocates make sure that members of Congress, particularly representatives in the House, know about the important work these often overlooked programs do in their districts and why they should prioritize them when making difficult decisions about funding.
So, how can you get involved and help make an impact? In order to take full advantage of the short window of opportunity before the House begins making key decisions regarding funding for HUD programs, the Alliance’s mobilizing team has launched an FY 2014 McKinney Letter-Writing Campaign!
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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.
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Get Your U.S. Rep to Support Homeless Assistance Funding! Here’s How.
April 05, 2013
After what can only be called an epic journey, fiscal year (FY) 2013 is over and Congress has moved full steam ahead into FY 2014. After the release of their Budget Resolutions (non-binding outlines of how the federal budget should look this year and in the near future – both the House and Senate came out with very different visions), the House and Senate are now working on the specifics of funding programs for various programs, including HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants.
As such, Members of Congress are currently circulating Dear Colleague letters. Dear Colleague letters, also known as “sign-on letters,” are usually sponsored by one to three Members of Congress and contain a message for specific people in Congress – in this case, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee or an Appropriations Subcommittee. The message usually refers to increasing or maintaining funding levels for specific programs for the upcoming fiscal year. The sponsors circulate the letter among their colleagues in either the House or Senate (in this case, both letters are in the House) to gather signatures.
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Sequestration: It’s Happening. What Now?
February 26, 2013
Whether you’re here in Washington, DC or not – there’s one big thing everyone’s talking about this week. And no, it’s not Jennifer Lawrence’s trip at the Oscars. It’s sequestration (cue ominous music). Sequestration, the automatic, across-the-board cuts to both security and non-security discretionary spending (which must be appropriated through the federal funding process each year, and does not include mandatory spending programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, etc.), is set to take place this Friday, March 1. As of now, it’s unlikely to be averted. While some last-minute proposals are being addressed (see today’s Hill Update for the latest), it’s unlikely that they will gain much traction in the next four days.
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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.
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Support the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs!
April 28, 2011
Today, we’re proud and excited to launch our FY 2012 McKinney-Vento Campaign!
The McKinney Vento programs may have received a small increase in the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget, but this small increase is simply not enough – especially in a time when so many Americans are still struggling to get back on their financial feet.
What: McKinney-Vento FY 2012 Campaign
When: Starting Today!
Where: In your community
How: Check out the campaign web page and start contacting your members of Congress!
Why: The McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance programs are the federal government’s largest investment and homeless assistance.
In 2009, Congress passed theHEARTH Act. The HEARTH Act will update and streamline the McKinney-Vento programs and makes them much better, focusing on prevention, rapid re-housing, and all the other strategies that we know end homelessness. We need a one-time big boost in funding to implement the changes.
We didn’t get that big boost in FY 2011 - we have to get it in FY 2012. We are asking Congress to fund McKinney-Vento programs at $2.4 billion in FY 2012.
If need more information, you’re interested in getting involved, or decide to contact your Members of Congress, just shoot us a quick email to let us know!... Read More »
Call your senator today!
December 15, 2010
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee released a draft proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations, which includes funding for many homeless assistance programs.
The Senate proposal includes the following:
$2.2 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants ($145 million more than the House propsed and $335 million more than last year);
$125.7 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs ($10 million more than the House proposal and last year’s funding level);
$85 million for 10,000 vouchers under the proposed new Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration;
$75 million for 10,000 new HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers; and
$159.4 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) programs targeted toward people experiencing homelessness ($17 million more than the House proposal and last year’s funding levels).
In short: this is great news for the homeless assistance programs we want to support!
The Senate is expected to vote on this package this week - possibly as soon as tomorrow, so we need your help!
What You Can Do:
Call your senators TODAY. In case you can’t find it online, you can find congressional office phone numbers by calling the switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Ask to speak to the person who works on housing and tell the housing staff person to urge his/her boss to support the funding levels for the homelessness assistance programs listed above.
Email any responses to Kate Seif (or call: 202-942-8281).
You know the story: Congress is trying to figure out how to al... Read More »
The 10 Best Things on Our Website
October 20, 2010
So after tipping my hat to the 100,000 Homes Campaign for featuring our interactive tools and maps on their (awesome!) blog, I did a little tooling around to remind myself of other really useful tools on our very own website!
The Alliance has, for almost 30 years, lead the campaign to end homelessness in the United States. And over the decades, we’ve accumulated the data, best practices, and effective strategies necessary to end homelessness.
And we’re hoping to share them with you!
After checking out our most visited pages and most popular tools, we’ve compiled a list of ten things - links, pages, reports – you need in order to end homelessness in your community (read: really great tools and info). And, just for good measure, I've tossed in a couple not-so-popular but ever-so-useful links as well.
The About Homelessness section.
This section gives you a broad snapshot of homelessness at the national level and includes sections and information on different demographics, the cost of homelessness, and maps produced by the Homelessness Research Institute(HRI).
The Interactive Tools and Solutions section.
HRI produces a number of charts, tools, and maps to help you better understand homelessness. Some of the more recent tools illustrate the number of doubled-up households in the United States, HPRP spending per household in the cities we’re tracking, and reductions in point-in-time counts necessary to meet the goals outlined in the federal strategic plan to end homel... Read More »
The McKinney-Vento Awards hosted by the Law Center
October 18, 2010
Imagine you’re a 7 year old and your family becomes homeless. Every night, you fall asleep in a shelter, in a car, on the street. Imagine moving in and out of the assistance system, shuffled back and forth from shelters to programs to relatives. Suddenly, school, teachers, classmates, and even homework become the constants in your life - anchors of normalcy when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Last Thursday, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty hosted the annual McKinney-Vento Awards, the organization’s yearly tribute to leaders in the field. This year’s awardees included best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich, the law firm Dechert LLP, and the Elzer family of Pittsburgh, PA.
As a novice to the organization and the issue, I felt lucky to tag along and learn. Even on a national level the homeless assistance community is a small one. That is why these events like this one are great opportunities to meet other people in the field, recognize the innovators, and connect with like-minded people and organizations.
As I sat taking in the night, one issue resonated with me most: the plight of homeless children.
The McKinney-Vento Act allows children in homeless families to stay in their original public school regardless of where their family is temporarily staying. Still, as I learned Thursday evening, there are homeless children who face discrimination when trying to exercise that right.
The Elzer family faced just this situation. When ... Read More »
Exciting News About Capitol Hill Day 2010!
August 18, 2010
For those of you who don’t know, Capitol Hill Day 2010 was held in conjunction with our annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness in July. Nonprofit providers, public officials, private sector representatives, consumers, and other key stakeholders visited their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to update them on local progress in ending homelessness and urge them to make ending homelessness a federal policy priority.
So, what’s the news? We have posted our 2010 Capitol Hill Day report on our website. The report highlights the unprecedented success of this year’s Capitol Hill Day. This year, a record 40 states were represented by more than 340 participants. Eight states, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, and South Dakota all had a 100 percent participation rate, meaning that everyone from the state who registered for our conference participated in Capitol Hill Day.
Not only was Capitol Hill Day an amazing effort by advocates from around the country, but the effort has already proven effective on advancing legislation. Less than a week after Hill Day, the House Appropriations Committee increased its proposed fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. Not only is the proposed funding level an 18 percent increase over the FY 2010 funding level, but it is also higher than the amount proposed by the T-HUD appropriations subcommittee! Way to go Capitol Hill Day participants!
Participants held almost 230 congressional meetings, and more than 45 of those meetings were held with a Mem... Read More »
Ending Family Homelessness: Learning from Communities
August 04, 2010
Today’s blog about family homelessness comes from our colleague Sharon McDonald, Senior Policy Analyst at the Alliance.
Across the country, families are downsizing their housing, doubling up with extended family or friends, moving into motels, and seeking help from homelessness prevention and shelter programs. The Recovery Act provided new funds including the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) and the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) to help communities grapple with the increased needs of families impacted by the recession.
With so many families facing homelessness, it is critical to maximize all available resources to help families. We must connect with Members of Congress to educate them about the impact of homelessness on families and communities, and - most importantly - the role social programs are playing in meeting the needs of vulnerable individuals and families.
This includes funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs, Housing Choice Voucher Program, and the National Housing Trust Fund. It also includes advocating for an extension to the TANF ECF which is providing rental assistance to help families stay housed and subsidized employment that helps families escape poverty (see yesterday’s excellent post about action needed on the TANF ECF).
Maximizing resources also means making sure that local programs to help low-income and homeless families and children are as efficient and as effective as possible. This means evaluating whether HPRP and other resources are reaching the families they are designed to serve. Are homelessness prev... Read More »
House Approves $2.2 Billion for McKinney-Vento, $75 Million for VASH
July 30, 2010
House Approves $2.2 Billion for McKinney-Vento, $75 Million for VASH
Last night, the House approved H.R. 5850, the fiscal year (FY) 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill. The bill includes a number of provisions to help people experiencing homelessness.
Although a proposed amendment to the bill would have eliminated funding for the HUD - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, the amendment was eventually withdrawn. As a result of YOUR help in making phone calls to your representatives, the final bill includes $75 million for HUD-VASH.
In addition to funding for HUD-VASH, the legislation includes:
$2.2 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (an 18 percent increase over FY 2010);
$17.080 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance renewals (a $740.8 million increase over FY 2010), including:
$85 million for 10,000 housing vouchers for the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration;
$350 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program (a $15 million increase over FY 2010);
$4.829 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund (a $54 million increase over FY 2010); and
$2.5 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund (no change from FY 2010).
The House approved $2.2 billion in funding for McKinney-Vento programs due to all of YOUR hard work. Although we need $2.4 billion to fully implement the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, we need to let our representatives know how appreciative we are to them for providing an 18 percent increase for McKinney-Vento programs.
Check the House Appropriations Committee website for more information on H.R. 5850.
Again – none o... Read More »
Act NOW: House May Cut Veterans Housing Assistance Program Today
July 29, 2010
The saga of the congressional appropriations continues – but today, we’re talking about something other than the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs.
You may remember that we’ve talked about congressional appropriations at length – the most recent post was about the surprising move by the House Appropriations Committee to allocate $2.2 billion to the McKinney-Vento programs – even more than was requested by President Obama or recommended by the HouseT-HUD subcommittee.
But today – there’s a really serious bump in the road.
Today, the House is expected to vote on H.R. 5850, the fiscal year (FY) 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill – the same bill we’ve been concerned about for all these months. The bill includes a number of provisions to help people experiencing homelessness, including that $2.2 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs we’ve been crowing about.
But danger lurked around a different corner. Now, funding for the HUD - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program is in danger of being eliminated.
It’s called Amendment #106 and it cuts a number of programs – HUD-VASH being of particular importance.
Because HUD-VASH houses homeless veterans by coupling rent assistance from HUD and medical treatment + case management from the VA. This program has shown to be effective at keeping even the most vulnerable veterans housed and safe.
The House Appropriations Committee included $75 million for 10,000 additional HUD-VASH vouchers in H.R. 5850 but four congressmen have filed Amendment #106, which would eliminate this funding.
They say it’s because H... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: Community stories and McKinney excitement!
July 23, 2010
We are certainly worried about our seniors this week. All Voices talked about seniors living below the poverty line who are never even counted, The Signal wrote about the projected rise of homeless seniors, and the Jacksonville Register also commented on the rise in homeless elderly population. While the predictions are of concern, they certainly do reflect the Alliance’s own projections in the first of Demographics series.
Across the country, communities are undertaking efforts to reduce veterans homelessness. The Washington state paper, The Olympian featured an editorial about updating health care for female veterans, while the LA Times published another piece about Secretary Shinseki’s visit to the region. The Department of Veterans Affairs, emphasized the Secretary, is committed to ensuring those who served in defense of the country are not abandoned when they return from service.
And while some wrote about how deficit worries are slowing funding for federal homeless programs, we were happy to find out this week that House Appropriations Committee proposed increasing funding for McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs in FY 2011! In a notable departure from longstanding protocol, the House Appropriations deviated from recommendations from both President Obama and it’s own T-HUD subcommittee and increased proposed funding by $145 million. (Is this news to you? Check out our (rather long) post about it.... Read More »
Three Cheers to You!!
July 21, 2010
Update: This morning, the Senate T-HUD subcommittee ultimately agreed with President Obama’s FY 2011 budget proposal and recommended $2.055 billion for McKinney-Vento programs. Stay tuned for more!
This morning, we made a big hullaballoo about the House Appropriations Committee’s decision to allocate $2.2 billion to McKinney-Vento programs. Departing from long-standing tradition, the House Appropriations Committee decided to increase funding levels to $2.2 billion - $145 million more than proposed by both the House T-HUD subcommittee and President Obama.
While the federal budget process could hardly be described as riveting, this particular action is truly unique. Rarely do the Appropriations Committees on either the Senate or House side depart from the recommendations of their subcommittees. And – of all the programs and initiatives and projects the Appropriations Committee considered (and there are a lot - members decided to give just the McKinney-Vento programs an extra monetary boost.
What does this mean? If nothing else, it means they’re paying attention – to YOU.
The Alliance has a small but mighty advocacy force – an elite group of superadvocates who work with our mobilization team to engage in year-long, ongoing, regular campaigns to inform, educate, and persuade federal lawmakers. It’s not glamorous – and it’s not always easy – but calls, emails, in-person visits, and persistence is what it takes to make changes like the one we saw today in the House Appropriations Committee.
And it’s not just action – it’s informed action. The Alliance arms our friends and colleagues wi... Read More »
McKinney-Vento Appropriations: Understanding the Process
July 21, 2010
A special blogpost today because the House Appropriations Committee proposed bumping the FY 2011 McKinney-Vento budget from $2.055 to $2.2 billion!
If that first sentence made no sense to you, you're not alone. But we're hoping this post helps you wrap your mind around the federal budget process.
We've written about fiscal year 2011 (FY 2011) funding a few times now on this blog - usually asking YOU to contact your members of Congress to ensure that homeless assistance programs (McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants primary among them) receive adequate funding.
And we've been asking you to do that because RIGHT NOW - right this very moment - Congress is making decisions about the federal budget.
From February (when the President releases a proposed budget) to whenever-Congress-gets-around-to-deciding, the House and the Senate meet in their committees and subcommittees to decide how much money should go into federal programs, agencies, and departments.
And as you can imagine, this is no small task. President Obama's proposed FY 2011 is $3.8 trillion dollars - you try deciding how that money should be spent! For their part, Members consider a wide breadth of factors, including the President's proposed budget, their own legislative priorities, issues of interest to home districts and constituents, national concerns (like the economy!), and a wealth of other things.
So it basically goes down like this:
Subcommittees (12, to be precise) review portions of the bill pertinent to them. In our case, the House and Senate Transportation - Housing and... Read More »
House T-HUD Numbers Out!
July 01, 2010
This morning, the House Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its fiscal year (FY) 2011 spending bill. (This is the subcommittee - along with its Senate counterpart - that governs the HUD budget.)
Although all of the details of the bill are not yet available, the legislation includes:
$2.055 billion for the HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (the amount requested by the Administration and a 10 percent increase over FY 2010);
$75 million for HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers;
$85 million for a Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration; and
$350 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program (a $15 million increase over FY 2010).
Given the current budget climate and the emphasis on keeping the deficit down, we are delighted that the House has provided increased resources for each of these programs. In fact, if passed by Congress, this would be the largest one-year increase for the McKinney programs in 15 years.
However, it will require $2.4 billion to fully implement the HEARTH Act.
So we need you to get back to those phones and do YOUR part to ensure that you’re protecting the local programs that help our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.
Contact your Representative and ask him/her to work throughout the rest of the appropriations process to provide additional funding for McKinney programs. (And if they happen to be a House T-HUD member, thank them for their work on the spending bill!)
Call the housing staffers i... Read More »
Friday: News Roundup! the NOFA
September 25, 2009
Today, a post from Amanda Krusemark, assistant to the President and a jane-of-all-trades member of the staff. The news: HUD released the NOFA today, which may seem insignificant to many, but often represents a large percentage of homeless assistance funding for many communities.
The big news today is that Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finally released the 2009 CoC NOFA.
In homeless industry talk a NOFA is a Notice of Funding Availability. It let folks across the country know that the application for federal funds is available.
Specifically, the NOFA explains the pertinent details, including how much money is available, who is eligible, what the funds can be used for, and how to complete an application for funding. In essence, the NOFA is the siren call for service providers to apply for federal funding.
This particular NOFA is a pretty big deal for homeless service providers, because it covers the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs. As we’ve discussed before, the McKinney-Vento programs represent the largest chunk of federal funds dedicated solely to homeless programs. Applying for these funds is one of the biggest jobs that Continuums of Care (CoC) – the official administrative unit in charge of homeless programs - do all year, because these funds will be often be the biggest single funding sources for homeless programs for the year.
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) and other stimu... Read More »
Understanding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs
July 15, 2009
So last week I did something new – the release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), so I thought this week I’d do something old: the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistant Act.
The McKinney-Vento Act was authored by Stewart Brett McKinney – a Republican Congressman from Connecticut – and Bruce Frank Vento – a Democratic-Farm-Labor Congressman from Minnesota, both of whom were known to their peers as advocates of those less fortunate, and dedicated to finding supportive programs and solutions to homelessness. The bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan, who – ironically - is often accused of contributing to modern-day homelessness by deinstitutionalizing mental health facilities in the 1980s.
The McKinney-Vento Act was a comprehensive, multi-faceted bill that:
Established the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a group of representatives from 15 federal agencies charged to design a comprehensive approach to reduce, prevent, and end homelessness in the country, and
Created 20 assistance programs administered by nine federal agencies providing a spectrum of services to homeless people, including supportive housing, emergency shelter, emergency food and shelter grants, rental assistance, job training and education, etc.
The original text of the bill firmly establishes that homelessness is a growing social problem that can be addressed by the federal assistance. I found it particularly interesting that they wrote, “the problem of homelessness has become more severe and, in the absence of more effective efforts, is expected to become dramatically worse, endangering the lives and safety of the homeless; the... Read More »