Today’s post was written by Assistant to the President Kate Seif.
Last month, almost 1,400 people came to Washington, DC for the Alliances National Conference on Ending Homelessness. As part of the agenda, more than one-in-four participated in Capitol Hill Day. Nonprofit providers, public officials, private sector representatives, consumers, and other key stakeholders visited their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to update them on local progress in ending homelessness and urge them to make ending homelessness a federal policy priority.
Based on what happened in their more than 270 congressional meetings, we have assembled a 2011 Capitol Hill Day report. The report highlights the unprecedented success of this year’s Capitol Hill Day. This year, more than 360 participants, went on more than 270 meetings. Four states, including Montana, Nevada, West Virginia, and Rhode Island, had a 100 percent participation rate, meaning that every person from the state who registered for our conference participated in Capitol Hill Day.
Of the more than 270 congressional meetings, almost 50 of those meetings were held with a Member of Congress himself/herself. Advocates made the case for increased funding for McKinney-Vento programs in an astounding 246 of those meetings! Other policy recommendations discussed include the importance of providing additional funding for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, SAMSHA Homeless Service programs, and Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs. The latter – RHYA funding, was really taken up by advocates this year, who raised the issue with at least five times as many offices in 2010.
Not only was Capitol Hill Day an amazing effort by advocates from around the country, but it has already had a measurable impact on federal policy on homelessness. For example, Capitol Hill Day outreach helped to increase the number of signatories on a recent McKinney-Vento congressional sign on letter circulating in the Senate calling for robust funding for the program. A total of 29 senators signed on to this letter, which is more than a similar letter circulated last year. This is an amazing development, particularly given the difficult environment around increased federal spending. Many of these signatures came as a direct result of conference participants connecting with their senators and their offices. In light of the current political and economic environment, this is really a huge success!!
The best part is that we haven’t seen the full results yet, because Congress has yet to release specific HHS or HUD funding proposals, though they are expected this fall. The success of this year’s Capitol Hill Day wouldn’t have been possible without participants from around the country joining together. The individual effort of each person, and particularly the volunteer State Captains who spent countless hours organizing each state’s efforts, allowed this year’s Capitol Hill Day to be one of the most successful yet. We will keep everyone updated on the continued impact these more than 270 meetings had on federal policy.
Thanks again to all our wonderful advocates and for another fantastic Capitol Hill Day!
Photos courtesy of the Bread for the World Flickr stream.