Send a Letter to Your Member of Congress TODAY!

written by Julie Klein
June 13, 2013

You don’t have to wait until next month’s Capitol Hill Day to advocate for increased funding for homeless assistance programs! In fact, there’s an opportunity to get involved this week!

Largely due to sequestration, the overall spending caps for appropriations subcommittees are much lower than they have been in previous years, especially in the House. In other words, there is less money than usual to spread around among different transportation and housing programs, which leaves funding for homeless assistance programs in a precarious place.

Therefore, it is important that advocates make sure that members of Congress, particularly representatives in the House, know about the important work these often overlooked programs do in their districts and why they should prioritize them when making difficult decisions about funding.

So, how can you get involved and help make an impact? In order to take full advantage of the short window of opportunity before the House begins making key decisions regarding funding for HUD programs, the Alliance’s mobilizing team has launched an FY 2014 McKinney Letter-Writing Campaign!

We have set an ambitious goal of sending at least 500 letters to Members of Congress by June 30. We are asking that members of Congress provide the amount proposed for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in the President’s FY 2014 Budget Proposal: $2.381 billion.

This amount represents a 19 percent increase in funding over the final, post-sequestration level in FY 2013, demonstrating that the Administration considers this program a priority. Now, we need to make sure that Congress follows suit!

Right now is an ideal time to take action. The House Transportation, Housing, Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD) Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee (the Committee tasked with allocating annual federal funding to most federal programs) is currently working on developing its fiscal year (FY) 2014 funding bill for all programs within HUD. We anticipate that this subcommittee will mark up its FY 2014 funding bill for all HUD programs as early as next week; then, the full House Appropriations Committee will mark up and vote on the legislation.

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, e-mail Kate Seif at cseif@naeh.org or me at jklein@naeh.org to let us know how many letters you sent so we can track our progress towards reaching our goal.

Each letter sent is immensely helpful! Please also help us spread the word about this by sending around this sample action alert, along with the sample letter, to your e-mail networks asking them to send letters to their Members of Congress too.

Don’t miss this critical opportunity to impact the policymaking process! Securing increased funding for homeless assistance programs is particularly important right now, while sequestration’s cuts not only to homeless assistance programs, but also to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing programs, among others, are collectively putting an increasing strain on the homeless assistance system.

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).

Decisions made in the next few weeks could directly impact homeless assistance programs for the next couple of years. Sending at least (and hopefully many more than) 500 letters from advocates across the country in the next 17 days will be a very powerful way of sending the message to Members of Congress that increased funding for homeless assistance programs NEEDS to be a priority.

The time to take action on this is NOW, so join our letter-writing campaign by taking a few minutes to send a letter to your Member of Congress today!


Photo by Ron Cogswell.