In case you haven’t heard, Congress has been struggling with the budget. The 2011 federal fiscal year started on October 1 – almost six months ago – and Congress is still haggling over the FY 2011 budget. It’s come to a point where the country is really just working week by week – from stop-gap funding measure to stop-gap funding measure – because our nation’s leaders can’t decide on how much money to spend (and not spend) for the next six months.
So what happens now?
Right now, House, Senate, and White House negotiators are trying to work out a compromise on a “top-line” number, the overall amount they will be able to spend, for all federal discretionary programs. Once they can reach an agreement, the House and Senate will fill in the program-specific details.
Here’s why you care: we want make sure that Congress allocates enough money to homeless assistance programs – and especially to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants so that we can fully and effectively implement the provisions in the HEARTH Act. And there’s lots more to care about too – programs that help veterans like HUD-VASH vouchers, section 8, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs, and a bunch of other programs that are essential to the fight to end homelessness.
We know these programs work. A lack of funding would put a dead stop to our momentum from the last several years, so it’s up to all of us to make sure Members of Congress understand just how the decisions they make over the next several weeks on the budget will affect our progress toward ending homelessness.
Luckily, there’s a way you can help. We need you to call and schedule meetings with your members of Congress. Call them up and let them know how important these programs are to you and your community. We have sample materials that you can use to craft your message, and we’re always here to answer questions.
So get to it!
Image courtesy of Evelyn Proimos.