2011 was a tumultuous year, to say the least. With everything from threats of a government shutdown in April, to major deficit reduction negotiations in August, to the failure of the Super-Committee in November, Congress was certainly able to hold our attention these last twelve months.
With elections and sequestration on the horizon, 2012 may be no different.
As a result, this next year will be challenging but it will also provide numerous opportunities to get involved and impact the legislative process. The Alliance’s advocacy team will be busy throughout the year keeping everyone informed with the latest news and opportunities to get involved, through reaching out to the media, meeting with your Members of Congress, conducting site visits, and more! Here’s a preview of what’s coming up for 2012:
- Media Awareness Campaign. Shortly into the new year, the Alliance will be releasing a report, similar to The State of Homelessness in America in 2011, and we want to make sure it has as big a media impact as possible. On January 12, we will be hosting a webinar to explain why this report matters to your community and how you can use its data to educate local decisionmakers and the public about the problem of homelessness in your community. For more information on this upcoming event, please click here.
- Capitol Hill Day. Every year, the Alliance hosts a Capitol Hill Day (CHD) in conjunction with our National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Washington, DC in July. CHD offers conference participants an excellent opportunity to visit Capitol Hill and meet with their congressional offices (sometimes even the representatives and senators themselves!) in order to educate policymakers on the importance of homelessness programs in their districts. Last year’s CHD was a huge success , so we very much look forward to topping it next year! Information on getting involved will be available next spring.
- Elections. Election season is a great time to educate your elected officials (and their potential replacements) and get them to discuss the issue that matter most to us: preventing and ending homelessness in our communities and nationwide. During the election cycle, it can be just as important to engage local leaders in the issues as it is to engage national leaders. As the debates heat up and all eyes turn toward November 6 (Election Day!), stay tuned for how you can get involved!
- Homeless Youth Campaign. As in 2011, the Alliance will be working to secure a funding increase for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs for fiscal year (FY) 2013. This will involve staying on top of the appropriations process and making calls, scheduling visits, and writing letters throughout the year.
- McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants Campaign. Compared to many of the programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, McKinney-Vento programs fared quite well in the last two appropriations cycles: they received an increase in FY 2011 and stayed flat for FY 2012. While we certainly consider these victories (especially in this fiscal climate), McKinney-Vento programs still need an increase in FY 2013 to fully implement the HEARTH Act. Securing additional funds this year will be more important than ever as HPRP ends in 2012.
Securing additional funding for programs with the biggest impact on preventing and ending homelessness is particularly important this year with the threat of an across-the-board cut in January 2013. Given these impending cuts, we must ensure that Congress works to prioritize affordable housing and targeted homeless assistance programs.
It will be more important to engage our Members of Congress this upcoming year than ever before. We cannot do this alone! We need your help to reach out to your Members to impact this important process. Please sign up for our advocacy update , check out our website , or email me if you’d like to get involved in any of these campaigns to help us make a difference in the lives of those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.