FY 2015 McKinney Appropriations: Sample Congressional Talking Points

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Advocacy Resource | August 19, 2014

Files: McKinney-Vento Funding: Congressional Talking Points (PDF | 361 KB | 1 page)

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 109,000 Americans 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.
o Discuss the need in your community for increased federal homelessness resources due to the impacts of the economic downturn and budget cuts. Describe the impact that reduced federal spending is having on homeless assistance programs in your community. Explain that increases in funding will be needed to counterbalance these devastating cuts.
o Describe your community’s experience with indicators of homelessness (such as the number of people living doubled up). Explain that high numbers of people with risk factors may quickly lead to increased homelessness.

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.
o Permanent Supportive Housing. Discuss the role of McKinney-funded permanent supportive housing (PSH) in reducing chronic homelessness in your community. Explain the cost-effectiveness of PSH.
o Rapid Re-Housing and Prevention. The HEARTH Act builds on communities’ experience through HPRP with the low-cost, efficient models of rapid re-housing and homelessness prevention by funding these models through the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG). Describe your community’s experience with the ESG, including how it has helped to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of your homeless assistance system in reducing homelessness.

Don’t balance the budget on the backs of America’s poorest people. The majority of HUD programs, including Section 8, Public Housing, and the Homeless Assistance Grants, are targeted toward the nation’s lowest-income people. 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 $300 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 2015 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 expiring, long-term grants, the Continuum of Care (CoC) actually needs an increase to operate at the same capacity. Sequestration cuts forced communities to cut their programs, and Congress must work to ensure that these cuts never happen again. With proven solutions in place, communities should be expanding programs to address homelessness, and Congress should provide the funding to do so.
Discuss your Continuum’s decision making process for the FY 2013 NOFA, the difficulties your community faced due to the tiering process, and the negative impact those cuts are expected to have on your homeless assistance system. 

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 $2.406 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in the final FY 2015 appropriations bill.