Here’s Something You Can Do Right Now To Help End Homelessness

written by naehblog
March 10, 2014

The President’s Budget Proposal released last week included a proposed $300 million increase for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. That money would fund all FY 2014 renewals, provide $215 million for ESG, and fund enough new permanent supportive housing projects to help end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.

Sounds pretty great, if you ask me (or anyone at the Alliance)! So, what’s the catch? Well, the President’s Budget Proposal is just that – a proposal. It’s now up to Congress to embark on the appropriations (a fancy name for “federal funding”) process. This of course represents some good news and bad news. The bad news: this year is a particularly tight budget year (again) and Congress will be fighting for every spare penny, of which there will be very few. Good news: You can impact the process and educate your Members on the importance of providing $2.405 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants in FY 2015.

How, you ask? The Alliance has launched an FY 2015 McKinney Letter-Writing Campaign, and we’re hoping to make it as easy as possible for you to reach out to your members of congress. Congress will have until March 31 to submit what’s known as Programmatic Requests – basically individual member requests for funding levels for key programs. Members can submit their hoped-for funding levels to their colleagues on the Appropriations Committee. It’s a way of saying to the Appropriations Committee, “this program is important to me and I’d like you to fund it at this level in the upcoming fiscal year.”

Here’s the thing, though: Members are unlikely to take this step unless they know their constituents want them to! Fortunately, if they receive a lot of letters from the people in their state/districts, they’re far more likely to submit that Programmatic Request!

In that spirit, as part of our campaign, we have set an ambitious goal of sending at least 500 letters to Members of Congress by March 31 (21 days away!). We are urging people to ask that their members of Congress provide the amount proposed for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in the President’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal: $2.405 billion.

Even more good news: ANYONE can send a letter, and we are making this as simple as possible for you by providing a sample letter that you can modify to personalize before sending to your Members of Congress.

Once you have modified your letters, send them to the person in each of your members’ offices who handles housing issues (I am glad to help you find out who they are!). Then, email me at cseif@naeh.org or Julie Klein at jklein@naeh.org to let us know how many letters you sent so we can track our progress towards reaching our goal (this is important!!).

If you’ve already sent letters to all your members, encourage others to send some, too! Use this sample action alert and let your networks, colleagues, and friends know that they should send a letter (or two or three), too!

Without an increase in funding, many communities throughout the country will not be able to fund existing activities through the competitive Continuum of Care and Emergency Solutions Grant block grant programs (within the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants). Work with us in 2014 and join our letter-writing efforts to ensure that this is a reality we don’t have to face!