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FY 2016 McKinney Appropriations: Sample Congressional Talking Points
Advocacy Resource | February 3, 2015
• Need. Federal funding cuts in recent years have placed an immense burden on federal housing and homeless assistance programs. These cuts, coupled with sequestration cuts and many difficult economic factors, will almost inevitably lead to an increased need for homeless assistance programs. Despite hard-won progress, on any given night there are still over 84,291 individuals in America who are “chronically homeless”: who have severe disabilities and have lived on the streets for long periods of time and/or repeatedly. Many programs have already had to make extremely difficult decisions and will only continue to face turning people away if sufficient funding is not provided. The long-term decline in HUD funding has greatly impeded our nation’s ability to provide safe and affordable housing to our nation’s neediest people and we must now work to ensure that each person has a suitable living environment.
• These Programs Work. HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs have a long history of strong, bipartisan support because they are repeatedly proven effective at preventing and ending homelessness for families, veterans, and individuals. Work to end homelessness is based on an interagency plan, and the models are outcome-oriented and cost-effective. Explain the success of a local McKinney-funded program. Share program outcomes and its impact in your community.
• Don’t balance the budget on the backs of America’s poorest people. The majority of HUD programs are targeted toward the nation’s lowest-income people; including Section 8, Public Housing, and the Homeless Assistance Grants. Cuts to these programs mean that policymakers are balancing the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable people. Underfunding HUD programs is hurting the country, and particularly hurting low-income Americans, including low-wage workers, people with disabilities, and older Americans. An additional $345 million for this program will have a tremendous positive impact on our nation’s most-vulnerable people and a negligible impact on the broader budget overall.
• Fund existing programs. As Congress begins work on FY 2016 funding, it is essential that congressional leadership ensures that any agreement provides funding that can maintain existing levels of support for local communities’ work to house homeless people. Due to accounting issues, the Continuum of Care (CoC) actually needs an increase to operate at the same capacity. Sequestration cuts forced communities to cut their programs, and now that the relief provided by the Murray-Ryan Agreement has expired, Congress must work to ensure that similar cuts do not occur in FY 2016. With proven solutions in place, communities should be expanding programs to address homelessness, and Congress should provide the funding to do so.
• Bipartisan Support. We must continue efforts made over the last decade by congresses and administrations from both parties to make preventing and ending homelessness a top priority.
• I hope you will work with your colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to provide $2.480 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in the final FY 2016 appropriations bill.