Archive for July 17th, 2012
We at the Alliance are getting increasingly excited for tomorrow, July 18 – the official Capitol Hill Day 2012! Capitol Hill Day is held every year in conjunction with our National Conference on Ending Homelessness. This year, conference participants from an astounding – and record-breaking! 44 states will head up to Capitol Hill to meet with their senators, representatives, and their staff members. They are scheduled to attend upwards of 250 meetings.
We’ve been extremely busy! Conference participants have been stopping by the Advocacy Information Table at the conference to pick up Capitol Hill Day Packets that contain information on each of the official Capitol Hill Day policy priorities. Advocates will then educate members of congress and their staff about the great work being done in their communities to solve homelessness, and explain the impact of these policy issues on their efforts.
If you’re unable to attend the conference, please keep an eye on this blog next month for a full report of the success of this year’s Capitol Hill Day. In the meantime, you can always check out last year’s report and get involved in the Alliance’s advocacy efforts by checking out our ongoing campaigns.
But if you ARE at the conference, we hope you plan to participate in Capitol Hill Day 2012! It couldn’t be any easier. Your state captains have been busy scheduling meetings. They just need YOU to participate! Stop by the Advocacy Information Table to get more information on how to get involved.
This year will be a year of change for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and, by extension, for advocates and people working on behalf of people experiencing homelessness, said HUD’s acting assistant secretary for the Office of Community Planning and Development, Mark Johnston.
Speaking at the opening plenary session of the 2012 National Conference on Ending Homelessness on Monday, July 16, Assistant Secretary Johnston addressed what is perhaps the most significant piece of news circulating the conference, the release on Saturday, July 15 of the Continuum of Care interim regulations under the HEARTH Act.
Assistant Secretary Johnston reminded the nearly 1,500 practitioners, public officials, and advocates at the conference that the new regulations will alter how communities manage and distribute resources in the future, but will also provide communities with important tools that have the potential to strengthen prevention and rapid re-housing efforts.
He noted that the HEARTH was signed into law in 2009, the same year as the Recovery Act, which created the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). Developing and implementing both policy initiatives have been a challenge for his agency, he said, but doing so has taught HUD officials a great deal about homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.
“In retrospect, it was great timing,” he added.
HUD officials have incorporated lessons learned from the implementation of HPRP into their regulations for the HEARTH act.
But Assistant Secretary Johnston also acknowledged the difficult fiscal environment in which agencies and advocates must operate. The funding for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, which had been growing year after year, he noted, has flattened out over the last several years.
“Funding…at federal, state and local levels is getting very, very tight, forcing us to become even more efficient and even more strategic,” he told the audience.
Assistant Secretary Johnston said he expects another HEARTH Act regulation for the Rural Housing Stability Program to be released sometime in the coming weeks.
In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Johnston also praised the interagency collaboration between HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the implementation of HUD – VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers, which he said has helped put the nation on track to meeting the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.
Between 2009 and 2011, veteran homelessness decreased by 11 percent. Assistant Secretary Johnson noted the decline in veteran homelessness in recent years is “stunning,” particularly considering the economic situation.
“I worked for the VA for many, many years, and I can attest that we’ve had the strongest relationship in the last two to three years than we’ve ever had before,” he said.