McKinney-Vento Campaign update: Let's get writing!

written by naehblog
February 2, 2010

Here’s the good news: President’s Budget Proposal included $2.05 Billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. It’s a step up from last year – and more than we expected – but it’s still not enough.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants are the largest federal investment in homeless services and prevention. First enacted in 1987, they provide funding though local Continuums of Care, as well as provide money for emergency shelter and services to homeless children.

Isn’t this a large increase? Yes…

…but we’re not crazy! The HEARTH Act, passed in May 2009, reauthorized the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs for the first time in nearly 20 years! A lot has changed in those two decades, and these changes – at least initially – are going to cost money.

The HEARTH Act moves towards a housing stability-centric approach to ending homelessness – which we know is the best way to end homelessness permanently. The HEARTH Act also:

  • Expands prevention strategies
  • Places new incentives on rapid re-housing, especially for homeless families
  • Continues the emphasis on permanent supportive housing, this time including the chronically homeless
  • Offers flexibility to rural communities to use McKinney-Vento funds for capacity building as well as services

(For a more detailed analysis of HEARTH, please visit the website.)

We are asking for $2.4 billion. It sounds like a lot – we know – but it’s what’s needed to implement all the great new changes that the HEARTH Act makes to the McKinney-Vento programs, all the whilecontinuing the core programs that already exist. This year, we’ll need enough money to implement the HEARTH Act and provide your community with new funding.

Now, with the President’s recommendations in mind, Congress is embarking on its own budget and appropriations process, so this is a CRITICAL time for constituents to voice funding concerns. The McKinney Appropriations Campaign (that’s us!) must get as many letters as possible to our Senators and Representatives from Feb 1 through Feb 22.

Our sample letter can get you started.

What are we asking for?

We want your Senators and Representatives to ask the leaders of both the Budget and Appropriations committees to fund McKinney at $2.4 billion in FY 2011. This represents a 28 percent increase over last year’s level and $345 million more than the President’s request.

Timing is everything!

Right now, the Budget Committee in the House and Senate will begin writing a budget, which sets spending guidelines for their respective Appropriations Committees. The Appropriations Committees, in turn, are beginning to gather request from their colleagues regarding funding recommendations for specific programs – those requests must be made by mid to late March.

So now is the time to start influencing your Members of Congress. They need to hear from constituents EARLY in this process, so we can be sure that they prioritize funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs.

Step up and organize! 
And just to up the ante, we’re making it a contest. The people who get the MOST LETTERS sent to Congress will win a special invitation to a Capitol Hill Day in late March, courtesy of the Alliance. See the contest details on our website.

To kick-start your advocacy efforts, here’s a sample action alert.

To participate in the Letter Writing Contest, please collect copies of any letters you get people in your community—board members, colleagues, friends, family, and clients—to send and forward them the Amanda Krusemark.

Sooner is always better – and the contest deadline is Feb. 22. After the 22, we follow up with offices to get commitments for site visits and our appropriations requests. So the need is urgent – let’s get writing!