Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) approved its funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013. The legislation provides funding for HUD programs, including McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, CDBG, HOME, and many other homeless and housing programs. As you may have already seen from our most recent Advocacy Update, out of the legislation comes some good news and some not-so-great news.
The bill includes increased or level funding for a variety of key programs, including increases for CDBG, HOME, Public Housing, and new money for HUD-VASH vouchers. Further details can be found in the House’s press release here. These funding levels are great news for HUD programs under a very difficult budget environment and will have an important impact in meeting the housing needs of many low-income individuals and families.
The legislation also includes $2 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, which is actually an increase of nearly $100 million over the FY 2012 level. This would ordinarily be fantastic, but by the Alliance’s estimates, due to the increasing cost of renewals, $2 billion actually wouldn’t be enough to funding all CoC renewals and maintain the existing level of Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) activities (rapid re-housing and prevention activities under the HEARTH Act). As a result, we anticipate that this funding level would result in more than 25,000 people being homeless instead of housed. In the current economic climate, this would of course be devastating.
So what can we do? We can advocate for change! The good news is that this legislation is not yet finalized, and we have an opportunity to make an impact. There are many instances along the way when this bill can be altered, but the best opportunity is right around the corner! The full House Appropriations Committee will review the legislation and have the first opportunity to make changes as soon as next week.
This means that your representatives need to hear from you NOW! We need YOUR help to send a strong message to Congress that HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs need $2.23 billion to cover all CoC renewals, fund ESG activities to begin to balance the loss of HPRP, and make further progress toward HEARTH Act implementation.
Call your representatives’ offices TODAY (congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121), and ask others to call, too! Mention that you are happy to see increases to key affordable housing programs, but are disappointed that the bill would make more than 25,000 people homeless rather than housed. Urge them to support the $2.23 billion funding level requested by the Administration for McKinney. If you have questions about reaching out to your representatives’ offices, let me know!
The bottom line is that we can make an impact, but we need YOUR help! This is a crucial opportunity to ensure congress understands the importance and effectiveness of HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs in our communities. Please take a moment to reach out and help us ensure that all families, children, veterans, and individuals experiencing homelessness have a place to call home.