Congress Approves Homeless Funding, But How Much?

written by Kate Seif
January 22, 2014

One government shutdown and nearly four months later, Congress finally completed fiscal year (FY) 2014 funding on January 17. We were relieved and excited to see an increase for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants ($176 million increase, including an expansion of ESG funds) and some extra funds for homeless assistance programs within VA. 

To jump into some more details, here’s our assessment on the final funding levels and what they mean:

HUD homelessness funding – The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants received a $176 million increase – raising it to $2.105 billion. This includes at least $250 million for ESG and language that would allow nonprofits to administer rental assistance with FY 2012-2014 funds. It’s important to note that this increase will have NO impact on the FY 2013 NOFA (due February 3). The increase will, however, ensure that we will have expanded ESG funds, and will likely be able to fund all renewals in the FY 2014 NOFA, but there will be no funds for new projects.

The legislation also includes $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers.

VA homelessness funding – VA Homeless Assistance Programs (HUD-VASH case management, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families, Grant and Per Diem, etc.) were funded at a slightly increased level of $1.4 billion. This keeps SSVF at the expanded $300 million level and provides a slight increase to the Grant and Per Diem program. This continued high level of funding will help keep us on track to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015!

HUD Overall – The overall HUD budget continues to be underfunded. You can see specific funding levels and how they compare to last year’s funding level here. Many HUD programs like the Section 8 program and Public Housing program received increases over last year’s funding level, though in many cases, they will not be enough to make up for past cuts. Many communities will still be receiving far less funding for low-income housing programs than is needed to meet the need of the area’s low-income people.

The news this year is far better than we have seen in the past two years or so. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 eased sequestration for FY 2014, which allows Congress to provide increased funding for many accounts, including those in HUD. Many funding levels, though, were far below the amounts proposed by the President, or by the Senate in its first version of the HUD funding bill.

The nation and particularly those communities working to prevent and end homelessness, continue to face difficult challenges. We understand that the FY 2013 NOFA presented exceptional difficulties for many CoCs, and many other federal programs have been forced to make similarly difficult decisions. Fortunately, we can work to make sure that we never have to see cuts to these programs again.  If Congress keeps hearing about the great work being done in their communities, we can hope to see even bigger increases in the future to ensure that we continue to work to prevent and end homelessness for all Americans.