Advocacy in 2013: A Look Ahead

written by Kate Seif
January 3, 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.

Sequestration and other budget negotiations are set to take place around the same time that the continuing resolution (or stopgap funding measure) for fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding expires. This means that this year, and this spring in particular, will offer enormous opportunities for advocates to impact federal funding for homeless assistance programs.

More specifically, the Alliance will continue to work with its partners across the country to engage the media with the release of its upcoming State of Homelessness in America 2013, which you will be able to use to educate local decision makers and the public about homelessness in your communities.

This July, the Alliance will host its annual Capitol Hill Day event in conjunction with the National Conference on Ending Homelessness here in Washington, DC, giving advocates the opportunity to educate policymakers on Capitol Hill on the importance of homelessness programs in their districts. Hill Day 2012 was a huge success, so we look forward to another record-breaking year!

In addition to these targeted efforts, the Alliance will continue its three targeted campaigns on McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, Runaway and Homeless Youth Act funding, and funding for targeted homeless assistance programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs. We will continue to keep you informed and create opportunities for you to take direct action through meetings, site visits, phone calls, and letter writing.

While Congress has averted the fiscal cliff, funding for key programs remains very much at stake. Key programs within HUD, HHS, and other agencies still face the potential for massive cuts in FY 2013 funding and beyond. This year, it will be critical for advocates to educate Congress, particularly those newly-elected Members, and encourage them to prioritize affordable housing and homeless assistance programs as they work to get our fiscal house in order.

The bottom line is this: we need you to get involved. There will be plenty of opportunities to act this year, and we need you to take advantage of them! If you haven’t already, please sign up for our advocacy update, check out our website , or email me. We want you to get involved in any of these campaigns to ensure that the programs that you run have resources you need to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Every day, advocates like you make huge a difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Now is your opportunity to let Congress know what you do, how you do it, and why. Make an impact! Make 2013 the year to get involved step up your advocacy efforts!