The new Congress is currently drafting fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding bills. The House is expected to vote on its version of the legislation as soon as late January. Current proposals call for cutting funding to programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by 20 percent - a plan the Alliance estimates would result in over 200,000 additional people homeless who would otherwise be housed.
We must make sure Congress protects important programs for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. We should ask Congress to provide:
- $2.2 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants programs;
- 10,000 new HUD - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers;
- 10,000 vouchers through the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration; and
- $126 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs within the Department of Health and Human Services.
What You Can Do:
- Contact the housing staff member in your Representative's DC office RIGHT AWAY. If you need help finding contact information, email Kate Seif at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Email or fax the staff member a letter asking his/her boss to support these funding levels. Use this sample letter as a guide. For more information, including policy briefs and key messages to use, click here.
- Let Kate Seif (email@example.com) know who you contacted and what response you received.
FY 2011 began on October 1, and the federal government is currently operating under a stopgap funding measure until March 4. Congress is beginning to draft its final FY 2011 funding bills. Current proposals in the House call for returning spending to FY 2008 levels, which would devastate homelessness assistance systems across the country.
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. Simply renewing existing projects in McKinney-Vento programs would require $1.75 billion in FY 2011 - much more than the $1.586 billion FY 2008 level. Although $2.4 billion is needed in FY 2011 to fully implement the HEARTH Act, a funding level of at least $2.2 billion would help cover the increasing costs of renewing current projects and allow communities to continue developing new permanent supportive housing. Providing $2.2 billion will provide additional Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) resources, which many communities will need to use to replace Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) resources if they run short before the end of the fiscal year. A funding level of $2.2 billion was approved by the House in July and proposed by the Senate in December.
HUD-VASH vouchers. This important program couples rental assistance from HUD with case management from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Because these vouchers were first introduced in FY 2009, a return to FY 2008 would eliminate 20,000 existing HUD-VASH vouchers. Instead, Congress should fund an additional 10,000 vouchers to help VA reach its goal of ending homelessness among veterans in five years. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees recommended funding 10,000 additional vouchers in FY 2011.
Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration. This demonstration would provide $85 million from HUD's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program to be combined with services provided through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Medicaid, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as resources from the Department of Education. This demonstration was include in legislation the House passed in July and the Senate proposed in December.
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs. These programs specifically targeted to unaccompanied, homeless youth aim to move youth off the street, increase community outreach, prevent runaway episodes, and provide case management services through various residential treatment models. The Senate proposed a FY 2011 funding level of $126 million in December.