Alliance Online News: Congress Averts Fiscal Cliff

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Newsletters | January 8, 2013

January 8, 2013    
 
    ISSUES  |  POLICY  |  SOLUTIONS  |  NEWS & EVENTS Forward Editor: Emanuel Cavallaro    
   
 
Spotlight On...
Congress Averts Fiscal Cliff

On Tuesday, January 1, Congress passed legislation that averted or postponed a majority of the provisions and events that make up the so-called "fiscal cliff." The bill, known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (HR 8), was signed into law by the President early Thursday morning.

HR 8 prevents personal income tax rates from increasing on the vast majority of Americans through making temporary tax reductions permanent, while raising income tax rates for those with higher incomes by allowing tax reductions for wealthy individuals and households to expire. At the same time, the bill raised taxes on working people, particularly those with lower incomes, by ending a temporary reduction in payroll taxes. The bill includes numerous other benefit- and tax-related provisions. Those that are most likely to impact low-income Americans include a one-year extension of: the Emergency Unemployment Insurance benefits; temporary tax credits; and the Medicare "doc fix," which provides higher reimbursement rates for physicians under the Medicare program.

While portions of the fiscal cliff were averted, the bill failed to replace the across-the-board cuts to domestic and defense spending, known as sequestration, with alternative deficit reduction measures. The deal averted the cuts for approximately two months, moving the sequester back to March 1, with the hope that the 113th Congress can strike an alternative deficit reduction deal by then. If the sequester had gone into effect last week, the Alliance estimates that ultimate cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants would have resulted in 145,000 people homeless instead of housed. The postponed sequester, should it take place on March 1, will be slightly less damaging than in its original form; however, it would still include significant cuts to HUD programs. The cuts would have a more immediate impact on programs like Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing, although they would also do substantial harm to homeless assistance programs once the 2013 funding for those programs is released.

HR 8 additionally decreases spending for fiscal year (FY) 2013 by $2 billion, even without sequestration. This could result in funding cuts to programs within HUD, as well as many other departments in the finalized FY 2013 funding bills. This may result in service reductions across the country.

 

 
Hill Update
113th Congress Convenes
On Thursday, January 3, 2013, new and re-elected members of Congress were sworn in and the 113th Congress convened for the first time. The House of Representatives and the Senate welcomed 81 and 12 new members, respectively. Members of Congress adjourned on Friday, January 4 until Monday, January 14 for the House and Tuesday, January 22 for the Senate. Upon their return, they will work on the issues noted in the above article, as well as on how to address the approach of the debt ceiling.

Committee Assignments in Process
Congress is in the process of finalizing committee assignments. Anticipated Senate committee assignments can be found here for Democrats and here for Republicans. Although the House is still in the process of making committee assignments, a list, including the majority of House committee chairmen, can be found here.


Toolkit for Working with LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness

The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections released a "Toolkit for Practitioners/Researchers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY)." The National Resource Center is a service of the federal Children's Bureau. The toolkit is a collection of information to help improve service delivery, youth engagement, cultural competency and awareness of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.

Application Deadline for Prevention and Re-Housing Funds

The Alliance is encouraging programs that received funding under the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing (HPRP) Program in the past or that serve families to apply for funding under the the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. The application deadline for initial and renewal supportive services grants under the SSVF Program is Friday, February 1, 2013, 4 p.m. ET. The grant funds are available to nonprofit organizations for providing rapid re-housing and prevention services for veterans and their families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

In December, the Alliance and partners hosted a webinar providing tips for the application, which is available on the Alliance website. Additional online resources include a chart, SSVF State by State Totals, and a blog post, SSVF Funding: Act Now.
 
 
 
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