In May 2009, Congress passed the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which reauthorizes and improves HUD's McKinney-Vento programs. The HEARTH Act changes the way that funds are proportioned and increases funding for certain activities, particularly homelessness prevention and assistance to families and rural areas.
In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed providing $2.055 billion - a 10 percent increase over FY 2010. The House, however, proposed an 18 percent increase to $2.2 billion. Right now, congressional staff are in the process of drafting a final, compromise bill.
Without a funding level of at least $2.2 billion, communities may receive less funding for new Continuum of Care (CoC) projects or may not be able to implement as many of the HEARTH Act's changes, particularly those that help prevent homelessness and rapidly re-house individuals and families who do become homeless. While $2.4 billion is needed to fully implement the HEARTH Act in FY 2011, a funding level of $2.2 billion will help communities make further progress in implementing this important legislation and in reaching our goal of ending homelessness in the United States.
If Congress waits until early next year to approve a spending bill, there will likely be increased pressure to cut overall spending, making it harder to get the needed increase for McKinney-Vento programs. In addition, Congress will be busy in the beginning of the new legislative session with other priorities and new business. Finishing the appropriations work this year will likely allow Congress to devote more attention to it.