For those of you who don’t know, Capitol Hill Day 2010 was held in conjunction with our annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness in July. 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.
So, what’s the news? We have posted our 2010 Capitol Hill Day report on our website. The report highlights the unprecedented success of this year’s Capitol Hill Day. This year, a record 40 states were represented by more than 340 participants. Eight states, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, and South Dakota all had a 100 percent participation rate, meaning that everyone from the state who registered for our conference participated in Capitol Hill Day.
Not only was Capitol Hill Day an amazing effort by advocates from around the country, but the effort has already proven effective on advancing legislation. Less than a week after Hill Day, the House Appropriations Committee increased its proposed fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. Not only is the proposed funding level an 18 percent increase over the FY 2010 funding level, but it is also higher than the amount proposed by the T-HUD appropriations subcommittee! Way to go Capitol Hill Day participants!
Participants held almost 230 congressional meetings, and more than 45 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 130 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, as well as the importance of passing the Zero Tolerance for Veterans Homelessness Act.
Although the full impact of Capitol Hill Day has yet to fully unfold, success is already in the air. Nearly a dozen congressional offices agreed to tour local homelessness assistance programs in the coming months. Representative Neal (MA) agreed to personally call the House Appropriations Chairman to express his support for providing $2.4 billion for McKinney-Vento programs. Senator Webb (VA) expressed an interest in working together with local advocates to convene a group of representatives from public housing authorities, local nonprofits, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to talk about HUD-VASH funding in Virginia and how to streamline the state’s rapid re-housing process. And these examples only tip the iceberg!
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 allowed this year’s Capitol Hill Day to be one of the most successful yet. We are eager to see the full impact and will keep you updated. Three cheers for all the Capitol Hill Day advocates!