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SAMHSA Homeless Services
|The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within HHS provides funding for several programs that provide services to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.|
The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 Budget Proposal included $75 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Homeless Services and $65 million for Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH), which, if enacted, would bring funding back up to FY 2012 levels.
On July 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation to provide $72 million for SAMHSA and $65 million For PATH. Unfortunately, the FY 2014 HHS funding legislation did not pass through either full chamber of Congress prior to the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2013. This year, Congress was also unable to reach a deal on a continuing resolution (CR), or stopgap funding measure that would have temporarily funded the government at post-sequestration FY 2013 levels until an agreement was reached, as they have done in recent years. Therefore, the government partially shut down at midnight on September 30 until, with the added pressure of a looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling, Congress was able to pass a deal on October 16 that reopened the government.
This fiscal package included measures to fund the government until January 15 at post-sequestration FY 2013 levels and delay the date on which the nation will need to address the debt ceiling to February 7. The package also set December 13 as the date by which lawmakers are expected to complete their conference report on an FY 2014 Budget Resolution, which will provide an outline for how federal funding will be spent. To do so, both chambers selected conferees to join a conference committee to reach a compromise between the different funding levels included in earlier House and Senate FY 2014 Budget Resolutions. Negotiations have thus far involved various strategies to reduce the nation's deficit, and the conference committee chairs have signaled that in order to increase the likelihood of coming to an agreement they are now striving toward a relatively modest goal, which would likely involve financing a partial easing of both FY 2014 and FY 2015 sequestration cuts by raising revenue through increasing various federal fees and making cuts to some federal benefits. It remains unclear whether any more controversial deficit reduction strategies, such as closing loopholes in the tax code or making cuts to entitlement programs, will ultimately be included in the agreement.
There is currently pressure by House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) for the conference committee to agree to a topline spending number in advance of the technical December 13 deadline. Expediting the process in this way would allow appropriators to conclude the long-delayed work on FY 2014 spending bills (including the one that funds the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program) sooner, with the goal of having an omnibus bill prepared in time to meet the set January 15 deadline to prevent another federal government shutdown. In the case that the conference committee fails to reach an agreement, plans are underway in the House to introduce a full-year FY 2014 continuing resolution (CR), or stopgap funding measure, at the relatively low $967 billion topline spending level outlined in the initial House FY 2014 Budget Resolution. The $967 billion level of spending would result in dramatic cuts to many HHS programs.
About SAMHSA Homeless Programs
The largest obstacle for many communities to continue making progress toward ending homelessness is funding for service delivery that fully integrates behavioral and physical health care interventions. An increase in resources for integrated behavioral health services is needed to overcome barriers to accessing mainstream programs, such as Medicaid, welfare, and general substance abuse and mental health services. SAMHSA’s financial support of services in these environments is a critical step on the road to ending homelessness.