Homeless Advocates Send Strong Message to Congress

written by Kate Seif
April 3, 2014

Wow. Simply put, we are blown away. If you recall, on March 12, we launched an advocacy letter-writing campaign to encourage folks to send as many letters as possible before March 31 to your members of Congress asking them to support increased funding for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2015.

The letter-writing campaign ends today. We extended it a few days beyond March 31 to match the deadline for the Senate Dear Colleague letter, and, drumroll please… We generated over 711 advocacy actions in just 22 days! So, so many of you took time to reach out to your members of Congress and encouraged others to do the same, and we couldn’t be more thankful! The letter writing was only one component of the 22 days, as many of you made calls to follow up on your letters/emails, alerted your networks, and even circulated petitions!

The letter-writing campaign actually corresponded perfectly with the beginning of the appropriations (federal funding) process. Members of Congress were in the process of submitting their office priorities and signing Dear Colleague letters (letters circulated by members in support of specific programs to be submitted to the Appropriations Committee). There were Dear Colleagues circulating in the House and Senate in support of increased funding for McKinney programs and many, many letters you all sent were encouraging members to add their names to this public show of support for McKinney programs.

We are truly humbled by the response to our call to action in these last few weeks. I haven’t even finished tallying all the actions taking. They are still coming fast and furious. (Thanks to all of you making one last push to get as many senators to sign Sen. Reed’s Dear Colleague as possible!)

The great news is that the fruits of all your efforts can already be seen. The House Dear Colleague Letter circulated by Rep. Gwen Moore asking for $2.405 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants received 89 signatures, seven more than last year’s recording-breaking number! In a difficult budget environment and an election right around the corner – that’s huge! The results of the Senate letter haven’t been finalized, but we’re on track to match or beat last year’s number of signers!

So what I’m trying to say is: thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I encouraged you all to make a strong showing for McKinney programs right out of the gate (i.e. the start of this year’s process) and you all went above and beyond! I am thrilled that we’re making such a strong case for increased funding for these critical programs. I sincerely hope that these past three weeks will be an indicator of all the great work to come this year!