Advocacy in 2014: Let’s Hit the Ground Running

written by Kate Seif
January 7, 2014

Advocating for increased federal funding can be an uphill battle, there’s no doubt about that. But the reward at the end is more than worth it: increased resources to prevent and end homelessness in America. These past few years, and last year in particular, were difficult, to say the least. (See our 2013 advocacy recap for more information, if, like most people, you just stopped paying to Congress around March of last year…)

Fortunately, 2014 offers us some opportunities we haven’t seen in a while – like semi-regular order for the federal funding process. Right now (yes, like, right now as you’re reading this), congressional appropriators (the folks in charge of federal funding for individual programs – including the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants) are working on finalizing fiscal year (FY) 2014 federal funding. They’re widely expected to do so by January 15, when the current stopgap funding measure expires. This gives us about 7 days to make one last push for increased funding for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants.

I know many of you are knee-deep in NOFA applications. As a reminder (not that you need it), part of the difficulty associated with the FY 2013 NOFA is the required 5 percent funding cuts. Finding up to 5 percent of your programs to cut isn’t easy, and it’s going to result in fewer housing opportunities for the people experiencing homelessness in your community. So, I think it’s worth taking just a few minutes out of working on your applications to call your Members of Congress and urge them to provide at least $2.26 billion for McKinney programs in FY 2014. This will ensure that we recapture some of our lost funds, increase our ESG capacity, and keep working to make sure the number of homeless people in America keeps going down. As a bonus, you can also urge them to include language in the appropriations bills that would allow nonprofits to administer rental assistance.

2014 will no doubt offer its own set of challenges, and who knows what Congress will have in store this year – especially with midterm elections looming large over everything already. But there are some things we do know: budgets will have to pass, money will have to be appropriated, and HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants need more money.

Join us in 2014 as we work together to make sure Congress understands the need to fully fund these critical programs. We at the Alliance will continue to blog, tweet, and email about these efforts, but without you taking the time to reach out to your Members of Congress, we won’t have much luck. Make advocacy an integral part of our efforts to end homelessness in 2014 and together, we will get the resources we need to make a tremendous impact.