Yesterday, Congress held its first vote on a proposal to fund programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including homeless assistance programs, for the upcoming fiscal year, FY 2012. This process, called the appropriations process, is one of the most critical times for advocates to get involved and reach out to their Members of Congress to educate them on the important programs funded through this yearly process.
The draft legislation, passed by the House HUD Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday, would provide the same amount of funding for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in FY 2012 as in FY 2011. Unfortunately, as many of our readers know, this is disappointing because a significant increase in funding is needed to address the needs of the growing population of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to implement the HEARTH Act.
However, there was definitely some good news! The legislation would provide $75 million for new vouchers under the joint HUD – Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, as the Alliance had advocated!
The original draft of the legislation, released on Wednesday, removed all funding for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), which is key to coordinating the federal government’s response to homelessness. Fortunately, the subcommittee adopted an amendment, proposed by Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) to provide about $3 million in funding for USICH. It is likely that the Senate will also provide funding for USICH, allowing them to continue their important work implementing the federal strategic plan.
We must let our representatives know that we appreciate the funding for HUD-VASH and ICH but hope they will support a higher funding level for HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs in the final FY 2012 legislation. If you are interested in contacting your representatives let us know!
The legislation would also fund a number of other key HUD affordable housing programs by:
- Protecting existing Section 8 voucher renewals;
- Maintaining equal funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) compared to FY 2011;
- Providing $1.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership (25 percent cut compared to FY 2011);
- $600 million for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly ($200 million increase compared to FY 2011); and
- $196 million for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities ($46 million increase compared to FY 2011).
There is still a long way to go and many more opportunities to reach out to your Members of Congress; the process is far from over! The Senate has yet to release its own proposal, and then the two chambers must work out a compromise version of the legislation. That is not expected to happen before the start of FY 2012 on October 1, so Congress is likely to pass a stopgap funding measure through late fall to give itself more time to work out final details.