You may remember that we’ve talked about congressional appropriations at length – the most recent post was about the surprising move by the House Appropriations Committee to allocate $2.2 billion to the McKinney-Vento programs – even more than was requested by President Obama or recommended by the HouseT-HUD subcommittee.
But today – there’s a really serious bump in the road.
Today, the House is expected to vote on H.R. 5850, the fiscal year (FY) 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill – the same bill we’ve been concerned about for all these months. The bill includes a number of provisions to help people experiencing homelessness, including that $2.2 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs we’ve been crowing about.
But danger lurked around a different corner. Now, funding for the HUD – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program is in danger of being eliminated.
It’s called Amendment #106 and it cuts a number of programs – HUD-VASH being of particular importance.
Because HUD-VASH houses homeless veterans by coupling rent assistance from HUD and medical treatment + case management from the VA. This program has shown to be effective at keeping even the most vulnerable veterans housed and safe.
The House Appropriations Committee included $75 million for 10,000 additional HUD-VASH vouchers in H.R. 5850 but four congressmen have filed Amendment #106, which would eliminate this funding.
They say it’s because HUD did not ask for it in its original budget request. But HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan testified to Congress he didn’t ask for the resources in the original budget request because the program was slow to get started. But now, he went on, the program is being rapidly implemented. Thousands of homeless veterans are in apartments, and, as Secretary Donovan said, 10,000 additional HUD-VASH vouchers would be quickly and efficiently put to use to house vulnerable veterans.
Everyone’s concerned about the budget – and with good reason. But we aren’t going to balance it on the backs of homeless, disabled, and vulnerable veterans.
Call your Representative’s office NOW. Ask to speak to the person who works on housing issues (you can find your Congressional office phone numbers by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.) and tell them to make sure their boss votes AGAINST Amendment #106 to H.R. 5850.
And HURRY! The House is expected to vote on these bills today.