Posts Tagged ‘MicKinney-Vento’
Today, we’re proud and excited to launch our FY 2012 McKinney-Vento Campaign!
The McKinney Vento programs may have received a small increase in the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget, but this small increase is simply not enough – especially in a time when so many Americans are still struggling to get back on their financial feet.
What: McKinney-Vento FY 2012 Campaign
When: Starting Today!
Where: In your community
How: Check out the campaign web page and start contacting your members of Congress!
Why: The McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance programs are the federal government’s largest investment and homeless assistance.
In 2009, Congress passed theHEARTH Act. The HEARTH Act will update and streamline the McKinney-Vento programs and makes them much better, focusing on prevention, rapid re-housing, and all the other strategies that we know end homelessness. We need a one-time big boost in funding to implement the changes.
We didn’t get that big boost in FY 2011 – we have to get it in FY 2012. We are asking Congress to fund McKinney-Vento programs at $2.4 billion in FY 2012.
If need more information, you’re interested in getting involved, or decide to contact your Members of Congress, just shoot us a quick email to let us know!
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee released a draft proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations, which includes funding for many homeless assistance programs.
- $2.2 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants ($145 million more than the House propsed and $335 million more than last year);
- $125.7 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs ($10 million more than the House proposal and last year’s funding level);
- $85 million for 10,000 vouchers under the proposed new Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration;
- $75 million for 10,000 new HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers; and
- $159.4 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) programs targeted toward people experiencing homelessness ($17 million more than the House proposal and last year’s funding levels).
In short: this is great news for the homeless assistance programs we want to support!
The Senate is expected to vote on this package this week – possibly as soon as tomorrow, so we need your help!
What You Can Do:
- Call your senators TODAY. In case you can’t find it online, you can find congressional office phone numbers by calling the switchboard at 202-224-3121.
- Ask to speak to the person who works on housing and tell the housing staff person to urge his/her boss to support the funding levels for the homelessness assistance programs listed above.
- Email any responses to Kate Seif (or call: 202-942-8281).
You know the story: Congress is trying to figure out how to allocate federal dollars – it’s commonly known as “appropriations”. It’s a legislative battle every year – and we’ve asked for your help before. We’ve asked you to support McKinney-Vento funding, assistance to homeless veterans, extension of the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, and lots of other really important programs.
And right now is exactly the time when we can make a difference. Congress must complete the appropriations process by Saturday, Dec. 18 – it’s when the government technically runs out of money.
So act fast! This is our moment. And, of course, thanks for all your help!
So after tipping my hat to the 100,000 Homes Campaign for featuring our interactive tools and maps on their (awesome!) blog, I did a little tooling around to remind myself of other really useful tools on our very own website!
The Alliance has, for almost 30 years, lead the campaign to end homelessness in the United States. And over the decades, we’ve accumulated the data, best practices, and effective strategies necessary to end homelessness.
And we’re hoping to share them with you!
After checking out our most visited pages and most popular tools, we’ve compiled a list of ten things – links, pages, reports – you need in order to end homelessness in your community (read: really great tools and info). And, just for good measure, I’ve tossed in a couple not-so-popular but ever-so-useful links as well.
- The Interactive Tools and Solutions section.
HRI produces a number of charts, tools, and maps to help you better understand homelessness. Some of the more recent tools illustrate the number of doubled-up households in the United States, HPRP spending per household in the cities we’re tracking, and reductions in point-in-time counts necessary to meet the goals outlined in the federal strategic plan to end homelessness.
- The (new!) HPRP Youth Profile series
If you feel like youth homelessness has broken the media barrier, I’d agree with you. Youth homelessness is getting noticed as, as ending youth homelessness is one of our 2010 Policy Priorities, we’ve had our eyes out. This series highlights how some communities are effectively using federal HPRP dollars to service this vulnerable population.
- Our Issues Sections.
So you’re feeling ready to go a little deeper? We go over the major topics we study at the Alliance. You’ll get an overview of chronic, family, veterans, and youth homelessness. We also go over rural homelessness, domestic violence, mental and physical health, and re-entry issues.
- Check out the Solutions.
Don’t forget: we don’t just study homelessness – we’re about ending it. In this section, we show you how. We go over the best practices and effective policies necessary to end all types of homelessness. Among then is the Alliance-championed Ten Year Plan, as well as the [also Alliance-championed] Housing First principle. We also include information about prevention and rapid re-housing, including the President’s stimulus-funded, Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program.
- The new Training section
Our capacity building team has really been making waves! They’re working on serious, on the ground issues with local communities to help them implement the best methods to end homelessness in their communities. They’ve also launched a great Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy), helping people prepare for the changes that’ll take effect next year. If you’re a provider, this is the section for you!
- Local Progress
Here we post on-the-ground examples of real, live plans put into practice. And, as you can imagine, those plans yielded some quantifiable results! We’ve posted snapshots from San Francisco, New York City, Denver, Chicago, Columbus, and other communities. Is your community among these snapshots??
- The 2011 National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness website
It’s new and improved and waiting for you! Registration has opened and we’ve already received applications – are you one of them? This year’s conference is in sunny Oakland, California and we can’t wait to see you there!
- And one more for good measure: the homepage.
Find out about the latest policy updates, reports, documents, campaigns, events, and news. And what’s most important (read to me?) This is where you can connect with us.I know you’re already here (on the blog) but are you connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter? If you aren’t, you should! Our social networks are a great way to connect with us online, meet our experts and advocates, and learn (up-to-the-minute) what’s happening in our office and the field of homelessness. We talk with our friends, trade notes, links, and resources, and chat about emerging issues and upcoming innovations.
Imagine you’re a 7 year old and your family becomes homeless. Every night, you fall asleep in a shelter, in a car, on the street. Imagine moving in and out of the assistance system, shuffled back and forth from shelters to programs to relatives. Suddenly, school, teachers, classmates, and even homework become the constants in your life – anchors of normalcy when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Last Thursday, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty hosted the annual McKinney-Vento Awards, the organization’s yearly tribute to leaders in the field. This year’s awardees included best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich, the law firm Dechert LLP, and the Elzer family of Pittsburgh, PA.
As a novice to the organization and the issue, I felt lucky to tag along and learn. Even on a national level the homeless assistance community is a small one. That is why these events like this one are great opportunities to meet other people in the field, recognize the innovators, and connect with like-minded people and organizations.
As I sat taking in the night, one issue resonated with me most: the plight of homeless children.
The McKinney-Vento Act allows children in homeless families to stay in their original public school regardless of where their family is temporarily staying. Still, as I learned Thursday evening, there are homeless children who face discrimination when trying to exercise that right.
The Elzer family faced just this situation. When Bill Elzer lost his job, his family found itself homeless and their children were forced out of their school.
But the Elzers weren’t having it. With the assistance of the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, the Elzers sued to have their children re-enrolled. The family won their battle and the children were able to return to their school this past spring. Because of this lawsuit and others like it, Pennsylvania now has guidelines to prevent other homeless children from having to experience the same injustices.
As the nation continues to recover from the grinding effects of this lasting recession, we can and must do more to extend even the smallest courtesies to each other – especially when the other is a young child. In a time of economic uncertainty and fear, we must work together in order to overcome our national challenges.
This was the message that the night most obvious on Thursday night, surrounded by people who have long been working to end homelessness in America. If we are to end homelessness in the nation, we must be willing to work together to create the best possible outcomes for the vulnerable people we serve.
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!
Across the country, families are downsizing their housing, doubling up with extended family or friends, moving into motels, and seeking help from homelessness prevention and shelter programs. The Recovery Act provided new funds including the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) and the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) to help communities grapple with the increased needs of families impacted by the recession.
With so many families facing homelessness, it is critical to maximize all available resources to help families. We must connect with Members of Congress to educate them about the impact of homelessness on families and communities, and – most importantly – the role social programs are playing in meeting the needs of vulnerable individuals and families.
This includes funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs, Housing Choice Voucher Program, and the National Housing Trust Fund. It also includes advocating for an extension to the TANF ECF which is providing rental assistance to help families stay housed and subsidized employment that helps families escape poverty (see yesterday’s excellent post about action needed on the TANF ECF).
Maximizing resources also means making sure that local programs to help low-income and homeless families and children are as efficient and as effective as possible. This means evaluating whether HPRP and other resources are reaching the families they are designed to serve. Are homelessness prevention programs screening out those families most likely to become homeless because they seem unable to pay for housing independently after receiving assistance? Are rapid re-housing programs implemented broadly enough to reduce the strain on shelters and transitional housing programs and reduce the likelihood that families will be refused shelter? Are local programs coordinated around a common vision for ending family homelessness to improve access and efficiency of resources community-wide? Are stakeholders engaged in evaluating data to assess the impact of the local investments in ending homelessness and making modifications to improve performance?
Our new report Ending Family Homelessness: Lessons From Communities examines the promising strategies communities are using to end family homelessness by making the most of available resources. These promising strategies can be replicated, adapted, and refined to improve our communities’ and our nation’s responses to families facing homelessness.
For more information about family homelessness, check out the website.
Don’t forget guys, the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund is an effective, efficient program that plays a significiant role in preventing and ending family homelessness. Act now to keep it from disappearing forever.
Last night, the House approved H.R. 5850, the fiscal year (FY) 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill. The bill includes a number of provisions to help people experiencing homelessness.
Although a proposed amendment to the bill would have eliminated funding for the HUD – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, the amendment was eventually withdrawn. As a result of YOUR help in making phone calls to your representatives, the final bill includes $75 million for HUD-VASH.
In addition to funding for HUD-VASH, the legislation includes:
- $2.2 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (an 18 percent increase over FY 2010);
- $17.080 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance renewals (a $740.8 million increase over FY 2010), including:
- $85 million for 10,000 housing vouchers for the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration;
- $350 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program (a $15 million increase over FY 2010);
- $4.829 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund (a $54 million increase over FY 2010); and
- $2.5 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund (no change from FY 2010).
The House approved $2.2 billion in funding for McKinney-Vento programs due to all of YOUR hard work. Although we need $2.4 billion to fully implement the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, we need to let our representatives know how appreciative we are to them for providing an 18 percent increase for McKinney-Vento programs.
Check the House Appropriations Committee website for more information on H.R. 5850.
Again – none of this could’ve happened without YOU. Our federal representatives need to hear what you think so they can do their job of representing our interests and priorities. So thanks for all your hard work!
Up next? The Senate – stay tuned!
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.
We are certainly worried about our seniors this week. All Voices talked about seniors living below the poverty line who are never even counted, The Signal wrote about the projected rise of homeless seniors, and the Jacksonville Register also commented on the rise in homeless elderly population. While the predictions are of concern, they certainly do reflect the Alliance’s own projections in the first of Demographics series.
Across the country, communities are undertaking efforts to reduce veterans homelessness. The Washington state paper, The Olympian featured an editorial about updating health care for female veterans, while the LA Times published another piece about Secretary Shinseki’s visit to the region. The Department of Veterans Affairs, emphasized the Secretary, is committed to ensuring those who served in defense of the country are not abandoned when they return from service.
And while some wrote about how deficit worries are slowing funding for federal homeless programs, we were happy to find out this week that House Appropriations Committee proposed increasing funding for McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs in FY 2011! In a notable departure from longstanding protocol, the House Appropriations deviated from recommendations from both President Obama and it’s own T-HUD subcommittee and increased proposed funding by $145 million. (Is this news to you? Check out our (rather long) post about it.
This morning, we made a big hullaballoo about the House Appropriations Committee’s decision to allocate $2.2 billion to McKinney-Vento programs. Departing from long-standing tradition, the House Appropriations Committee decided to increase funding levels to $2.2 billion – $145 million more than proposed by both the House T-HUD subcommittee and President Obama.
While the federal budget process could hardly be described as riveting, this particular action is truly unique. Rarely do the Appropriations Committees on either the Senate or House side depart from the recommendations of their subcommittees. And – of all the programs and initiatives and projects the Appropriations Committee considered (and there are a lot – members decided to give just the McKinney-Vento programs an extra monetary boost.
What does this mean? If nothing else, it means they’re paying attention – to YOU.
The Alliance has a small but mighty advocacy force – an elite group of superadvocates who work with our mobilization team to engage in year-long, ongoing, regular campaigns to inform, educate, and persuade federal lawmakers. It’s not glamorous – and it’s not always easy – but calls, emails, in-person visits, and persistence is what it takes to make changes like the one we saw today in the House Appropriations Committee.
And it’s not just action – it’s informed action. The Alliance arms our friends and colleagues with data-driven, evidence based information. From the policy we support, to the best practices we propose, to the statistics we present – we make sure that advocates have the facts when they meet with local, state, and federal leaders. Over time, this builds the reputation and credibility of our partners – establishing them as reliable and prudent actors in the homelessness and housing fields.
Moreover, our partners are willing to collaborate and compromise. Homelessness has long been a bipartisan issue with leaders on either side of the aisle – from Senator Kit Bond to Representative Maxine Waters. Ending homelessness is socially responsible, economically prudent, and improves the lives and livelihoods of all Americans. A thorough understanding of the issue from all angles – as well as an enthusiasm to make real progress – has moved this issue forward.
All this to say, we couldn’t do any of the work we do without the fervent support and relentless work of our advocates! Thank you so much for your letters, calls, energy and – most importantly – your commitment to ending homelessness.
For more information about our mobilization team or to get involved with ongoing Alliance advocacy efforts, please contact us.