Archive for February 14th, 2012
Yesterday, President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget.
Despite the difficult budget environment, the President proposed significant increases in funding to several homelessness programs, maintaining the Administration and Congress’ focus on bringing down the number of homeless people nationally. While these increases will be much needed, belt tightening for housing, employment and other programs will impede progress toward the goal of ending homelessness.
Overall, the president proposed to allocate $2.231 billion to homeless assistance programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); this is a 17 percent increase compared to the FY 2012. This increase will be needed to fulfill the Administration’s pledge to end homelessness, as outlined in Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness.
Homeless veterans are also getting a boost in this year’s budget proposal. A total of $1.35 billion has been allocated to prevent and end veteran homelessness, an increase of $333 million compared to the FY 2012 level. This increase in funding is coupled with changes to emphasize permanent and rapid re-housing as well as access to supportive services over less effective methods to end homelessness. These changes will be critical to if the nation is to end homelessness among veterans.
In an effort to focus on employment, the FY 2013 budget also includes $12.5 billion for a new program called the Pathways Back to Work Fund. This program subsidizes jobs for low-income youth and low-income and long-term unemployed adults.
Despite all this good news, there are impending concerns to think about. As we already know, the lingering effects of the recession continue to impact vulnerable and low-income people and families still struggling to recover from economic troubles. Moreover, there’s the sequestration[i] – or some other reduction in funding to address the federal deficit – to think about, which could reduce these numbers in the coming months.
In sum, we recognize that this is an extraordinarily difficult budget year – likely the first of many difficult budget years and here at the Alliance, we are grateful that the president and his administration have recognized the critical importance in ending homelessness.
In the days and weeks to follow, we will continue to post more information about the president’s budget proposal and it’s possible impact on homelessness and homeless assistance programs. (You can find our official press release here).
Tomorrow, join experts on the Alliance staff for a rundown on the numbers. You can still register for the webinar (which takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 1 p.m. ET) online.
[i] Earlier this year, as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was unable to reach a bipartisan agreement on how to reduce the federal deficit, sequestration came into effect. Sequestration mandates that an initial 9.1 percent across-the-board cut is applied to all discretionary spending programs. For more: http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/2011/08/how-sequester-works-if-joint-select-committee-fails.
Today’s guest post is written by Ankita Patel. She blogged from the National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness.
I’m currently at the National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness in Los Angeles, where a lot of creative thinkers are sitting together, learning from each other, and sharing creative solutions to reach the common goal of housing families and youth in the right way and the shortest amount of time.
There seems to be a few points are emerging:
- Shift program-based thinking to systems-based thinking.
- •Systems, and not just programs in isolation, must address issues including the lack of affordable housing, limitation of shelter space, and long waiting lists for public housing. The key is to form inclusive partnerships which employ effective strategies to change the way a homeless assistance system responds to families in crisis.
- Track and use data to your advantage. Data is the cornerstone of evaluation; without it, we cannot understand the performance of the system and whether the system is meeting the goals of the program.
- Rapid re-housing/prevention works for the majority of families. It’s not just about housing; it includes wraparound services. The services may be “light touch services” (where someone needs assistance to pay off an old debt) whereas others may need advocacy from beginning to end.
We, as domestic violence advocates, cannot ignore the issues of homeless families, just as housing advocates cannot ignore the fact that domestic and sexual assault, as well as domestic sex trafficking, impacts the ability to gain and retain safe and stable housing.
I am extremely energized by the positivity and creativity, as well as the commitment that everyone has to end homelessness on a national level. Thank you, National Alliance to End Homelessness for hosting this conference.
Ankita Patel works for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) in the Fatality Review and Domestic Violence Housing First projects. She is an alumnus of Seattle University School of Law and has been with WSCADV since 2008.